Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer

Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer

Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer

Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer


Unknown to all but a few, Newton was a practicing alchemist who dabbled in the occult, a tortured, obsessive character who searched for an understanding of the universe by whatever means possible. Sympathetic yet balanced, Michael White's Isaac Newton offers a revelatory picture of a genius who stood at the point in history where magic ended and science began.


This strange spirit, who was tempted by the Devil to believe he could reach all the secrets of God and Nature by the pure power of mind -- Copernicus and Faustus in one.


According to a list of the most influential people in history, The 100, Isaac Newton ranks number 2 -- after Muhammad and ahead of Jesus Christ. This position is justified by his unparalleled contributions to science -- principles that have moulded the modern world. Yet Newton was not the man that history has claimed him to be. More than any other scientist in history, Newton's image has been protected by his disciples and by generations of biographers who have produced inaccurate and sometimes totally false accounts of his life. Not until the 1930s did the real Isaac Newton begin to emerge from the mists of history into the light of critical analysis. Amazingly, it has taken since then to shrug off the final deceits of those who wished to perpetuate the myth that Newton was in some way omnipotent, beyond the baser mundanities of human existence; that he was the pure, distilled essence of scientific inquiry -- genius unsullied.

The hagiographic accounts began within a year of Newton's death. William Stukeley, who is today better remembered as a scholar of Druidism and ancient mythology, was Newton's first biographer. His Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life, written during the 1720s, is a devotional account of his hero's life, based uniquely upon first-hand experience. Stukeley knew Newton well during the final decade of his life, and because of this the Memoirs is an important book. But, like many of Newton's later biographers, Stukeley was blinkered by adoration: he saw Newton as a demigod, almost immortal and utterly without fault.

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