[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: VMs: Giordano Bruno, was Re: Astrology etc.

The following is a slightly edited version of a Bruno bibliography that I
posted to usenet some years ago. While some of the information is now a bit
dated (at least as concerns in-print status), some of it may be useful to
those interested in studying Bruno's life and thought. Apologies if some of
this is redundant.



Studies of Bruno, currently available, or easily to be found used:

[...following a recommendation by another poster for Frances Yates'
"Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition"...]

* Frances Yates has much additional material on Bruno in her "The Art
  of Memory", published two years after GB&tHT, which is a valuable
  work in its own right for any student of the Western Magical Tradition.
  (1966 University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-95001-8)

  Her remaining essays on Bruno, most of which were originally published
  in the *Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes* from 1938 to
  1943 were published in "Lull & Bruno: Collected Essays Vol.I".
  (1982 Routledge & Kegan Paul, ISBN 0-7100-0952-6 [v. I])

* Ioan P. Culiano's "Eros and Magic in the Renaissance", in addition to
  giving the most insightful interpretation of Bruno's Opus, is also
  the only work I know of written about a gnostic martyr by a gnostic
  martyr.  Includes material examining some of Bruno's untranslated
  Latin and Italian magickal works. So good in so many ways, it cannot be
  too highly recommended. Also gives extensive consideration to other
  important sources such as Iohannes Trithemius, Pico Della Mirandola and
  Marcilio Ficino. Absolutely essential.
  (1987 University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-12316-2)

* Dorothea Waley Singer's "Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought", though
  out of print, is worth looking for as a major biography of Bruno, and
  for her annotated translation of his "De l'Infinito Universo et Mondi"
  ("On the Infinite Universe and Worlds"), one of the cornerstones of his
  philosophical thought, and one of the primary reasons he was burned at
  the stake. (1950 Henry Schuman, Inc.)

* Hilary Gatti's "The Renaissance Drama of Knowledge_ examines Bruno's
  influence on English literature and scientific philosophy. Subtitled
  "Giordano Bruno in England", it studies his work with relation to the
  manuscripts in the library of the Duke of Northumberland, and the work
  of Christopher Marlowe ("Doctor Faustus") and William Shakespeare.
  (1989 Routledge & Kegan Paul, ISBN 0-415-03207-5)

* John Bossy's "Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair", which posits that
  Bruno worked as an intelligence agent for the British Secret Service to
  frustrate Catholic attempts to overthrow Elizabeth. Interesting, whether
  or not one accepts the author's conclusions, for its study of Bruno's
  travels, contacts, and political opinions. Also contains transcriptions
  and translations of much correspondence between "Henry Fagot" (who the
  author identifies as Bruno) and members of Elizabeth's court.
  (1991 Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-04993-5)

* I. Frith's "Life of Giordano Bruno the Nolan" (1887 Ticknor & Co.,
  Boston) was the first notable biography of Bruno in English, and is
  still the most exhaustive, running well over 300 pp. It is supplemented
  with several interesting appendices, which identify the known works of
  Bruno, and his surviving manuscripts in several collections. Worth
  looking for in university libraries.

* Ramon G. Mendoza, PhD.'s "The Acentric Labyrinth: Giordano Bruno's
  Prelude to Contemporary Cosmology" is the latest entry I am aware of.
  In it, Mendoza argues that Bruno as the true founder of contemporary
  cosmology. To quote briefly from the author's introduction:

   "It generally escapes the notice of most contemporary historians of
    science that it was Giordano Bruno who, for the first time in the
    history of thought, both Western and Oriental, clearly and explicitly
    formulated precisely these three fundamental metaphysical assumptions
    of contemporary cosmology: the unity of the universe, its uniformity,
    homogeneity and isotropy, and the universal validity and applicability
    of its laws."

  Mendoza refutes much of the material written on Bruno by Yates, and
  utterly discounts Bossy's detective story. Notably, he is the second
  Jesuit to write a biography of Bruno (the first being Gatti).
  (1995 Element Books, Inc., ISBN 1-85230-640-8)


Also, works by Bruno available in English and either in print or reasonably
easy to find used:

* "The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast" ("Spaccio de la bestia
  trionfante" 1584), translated and introduced by Arthur D. Imerti,
  is an excellent starting place. Readily available in paperback for
  under $10 in better bookstores, it is the work named specifically at
  Bruno's final trial by the church tribunal that ordered him burned.
  One of Bruno's Italian dialogues, the flyleaf describes it (in part):

   "Allegorically, the "triumphant beast" signifies the multifarious
    vices that have triumphed over man and society. Bruno's work is cast
    in the form of dialogues which recount the deliberations of the Greek
    gods who have assembled to banish from the heavens the constellations
    that remind them of their evil deeds. Guided by these deliberations,
    Jove commands that the moral virtues be elevated to the places of
    Ursa, Gemini, Perseus, Hercules, and other constellations, thereby
    establishing the premises upon which he will criticize not only the
    Greek religion, but also, anachronistically, all of the Judaeo-
    Christian religions. The crisis facing Jove, the aging father of the
    gods, is symbolic of the crisis in the life of Renaissance man,
    profoundly disturbed by new religious, philosophical, and scientific

  (In reprint 1992 by the University of Nebraska, ISBN 0-8032-6104-7)

* "The Ash Wednesday Supper" ("La Cena de le ceneri" 1584), translated
  and edited by Edward A. Gosselin and Lawrence S. Lerner, is another of
  Bruno's Italian dialogues, and considered by many to be the one of
  his finest. Again quoting from the flyleaf:

   "Arguing for the physical reality of the infinite universe with no
    centre, Bruno sought to prove that each man is every man, that
    conflict would be resolved if all men accepted the unifying potential
    of his hermetic religion. Using this radical cosmology, Bruno sought
    to heal the secular and religious wounds of sixteenth-century Europe."

* "On the Composition Of Images, Signs & Ideas" ("De Imaginum, Signorum &
  Ideorum Compositione" 1591), translated by Charles Doria, Edited and
  Annotated by Dick Higgins, is the final work published by Bruno in his
  lifetime, and it is in many ways his crowning achievement. Quoting (once
  again) from the Introduction:

   "...the careful reader must not skip the "Dedicatory Epistle" which
    begins the work, since there Bruno describes what he is setting out to
    do, namely to present idea, imagination, analogy, figure, arrangement
    and notation, the universe of God and the world of nature and reason,
    so that one may understand precisely how and why analogs among things
    reflect and imitate divine action. In this way, he will reach a more
    developed state of knowledge and enlightenment.
   "'De Imaginum... Compositione' itself is divided into three books. The
    first presents philosophical reasons and underpinnings, the second
    provides a vision of the Olympian deities, and the third assembles a
    methodology of mnemonics, games and ludibria, and diagrams..."

  The book itself is a work of art, from the outer wrapper, which is silk-
  screened onto clear latex, to the reproductions in the text of both the
  original illustrations from the 1591 edition and the 1879 "Iordani Brvni
  Nolani Opera Latina Conscripta". It is expensive ($39.95), but worth it.
  (1991 Willis, Locker & Owens, ISBN 0-930279-18-2)


Lastly, two connected works of fiction in which Bruno plays a significant
role (along with John Dee and Edward Kelley) are John Crowley's excellent
"Aegypt" (1987) and "Love & Sleep" (1994). In particular, the scene where
Bruno looks up at the night sky and realizes that there is no circle of
fixed stars is memorable. Highly recommended.

There are several other of Bruno's works available either in used book
stores or in better libraries (e.g. another translation of his "Ash
Wednesday Supper" and at least two translations of his "De gli eroici
furori" ("The Heroic Frenzies") and a number of other biographical and
philosophical studies, but this is only intended to provide some starting
places. Excellent bibliographies can be found in several of the above.

* "The Ash Wednesday Supper" ("La Cena de le ceneri" 1584), translated
and edited by Edward A. Gosselin and Lawrence S. Lerner

 1995 University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0-8020-7469-3

Also, to view some of Bruno's work online, direct your favorite browser
to Joseph Peterson's web-site:


where he has a number of Bruno's texts, some in English, and a number in

To unsubscribe, send mail to majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxx with a body saying:
unsubscribe vms-list