I purchased this book last year, and struggled through it. It is about the Kingship of Edward IV and the propaganda and ideas surrounding it, which according to Hughes involved the evoking of Arthurian myths and Alchemical ideas of death and rebirth.
However I don't feel knowledgeable enough to comment much on it. I have not read the voluminous source material he references, most of it from the period in question, material which it seems many people have not looked at before. I am uneasy about some of the parallels he draws, but am generally convinced by the overall narrative.
I searched this forum and the alchemy website, but have found no mention of this book. Has anyone else read it?
This book has not received a positive response from the scholarly community. I did meet Jonathan Hughes at a couple of conferences on alchemy a year or so before the publication of his book. I did get the impression that he had some substantial lacunae in his knowledge of alchemical history. When I received a copy of the book I must say my immediate impression was that it did not advance our understanding ot Ripley, or the alchemy of the 15th century in England. He hammers away trying to present a thesis that seems unsubstantiated by the facts.
Interesting. I can tell that he is casting his net rather widely, and I think he reads too much importance into the alchemical stuff, and it would be nice to see if the scholarly community have actually counter attacked, as it were.
Thinking about it in the light of your comment, I don't think he says anything about the specific alchemy of the 15th century that we don't know already, what he is interested about is the correlations that he see's between the cultural propaganda going on at that period and alchemy, which sounds like a nice idea, but as you say has not been well recieved. And at times it felt like I was reading one of those books which is trying to link the masons in with Rosslyn chapel, or aliens and ancient legends of floods and things falling from the sky- they draw correlations which may or may not be correct, but rarely make predictions which can be confirmed by further research.
Paul Ferguson wrote: There's a generally enthusiastic academic review here:
Yes, a number of historians wrote some reasonable reviews of this, including Michael K. Jones, who wrote the preface, however, these people were not specialists in alchemy. They may have welcomed a new book on the Wars of the Roses introducing a new perspective (alchemy and Ripley), without necessarily having a clear grasp of alchemical history.
The book itself is of little use to anyone primarily interested in alchemy. I don't think I have taken it off my shelf since a few days after I bought it. It is a considerable disappointment.
It so muddles and confuses the historical information about Ripley, that I, and I suspect, many scholars, would not see it as a relaiable source for information.