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ExhibitionAn Extraordinary Life

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  • A man's right profile, wearing a dark cap and white gown.
    Henricus Cornelius Agrippa

    Henricus Cornelius Agrippa

    Artist: R. Cooper
    Courtesy National Library of Medicine

    Cornelius Agrippa’s work La Philosophie Occulte was one of the most widely read and respected books on the magical arts.

  • Book open to yellowing title pages; left page has round seal.
    Geheimnuss Aller Seiner Geheimnusse, 1770

    Geheimnuss Aller Seiner Geheimnusse (Secret of All His Secrets), 1770

    Author: Paracelsus (1493–1541)
    Courtesy National Library of Medicine

    During his university days, Victor Frankenstein apprentices himself to Professor Waldheim, who praises both Agrippa and Paracelsus as “men whose indefatigable zeal provided the foundation of modern knowledge.”

  • Portrait of balding man holding a scientific instrument in both hands.
    Theophrastus Paracelsus, 1541

    Theophrastus Paracelsus, 1541

    Courtesy National Library of Medicine

    A physician and alchemist, Paracelsus established the role of chemistry in medicine.

  • Book open to title page with red and black text and a seal on the right. Left page is blank.
    La Philosophie Occulte, 1727

    La Philosophie Occulte (The Occult Philosophy), 1727

    Author: Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486–1535)
    Courtesy National Library of Medicine

    In this text, Cornelius Agrippa combined Christian theology with the cabala, an occult religious strain of Judaism.