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"Misticall Wordes and Names Infinite": An Edition of Humfrey Lock's Treatise on Alchemy, with an Introduction, Explanatory Notes and Glossary
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Languages, Department of English.
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation contains an edition of Humfrey Lock’s (fl. 1560–1570) treatise on alchemy, and includes an introduction to the edition, explanatory notes and a glossary. The edition presents the text of Bodleian Library MS Ashmole 1490, which was copied out and annotated in 1590 by Dr Simon Forman (1552–1611).

Lock’s treatise primarily deals with the production of the philosophers’ stone or elixir, which was thought to transmute base metals into silver and gold, or heal bodily diseases and prolong life. In the introduction, I explore the sociohistorical background of Lock’s alchemical text and demonstrate that Lock compiled his treatise while he was in Russia, intending it as a gift to Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley. I also examine the large number of Latin and vernacular sources from which the text was compiled. The extant manuscripts of the text are described in detail and the textual relationships of the manuscripts are charted with the help of a database method which was devised for the purpose. Finally, various aspects of alchemical language are discussed, as are the linguistic features of the edited manuscript, MS Ashmole 1490.

There is currently a lack of editions of alchemical writings in English. By providing a scholarly edition of Lock’s treatise, this dissertation represents a step towards remedying the situation. This edition also illustrates the strong position of alchemy in late 16th-century England, and provides new information on aspects of the vernacularisation of alchemical texts and the characteristics of alchemical language.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Engelska institutionen , 2004. , 359 p.
Keyword [en]
English language, alchemy, Humfrey Lock, early Modern English, Middle English, vernacularisation, early science, Simon Forman, MS Ashmole 1490
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-4124OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-4124DiVA: diva2:164233
Public defence
2004-04-24, Ihresalen, Språkvetenskapligt centrum, Villavägen 4, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2004-03-18 Created: 2004-03-18Bibliographically approved

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