HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story by…
Loading...

The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story (1998)

by Janet Gleeson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4541733,046 (3.76)15

None.

None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
The history of porcelain in Europe. ( )
  yamiyoghurt | Jan 29, 2018 |
I was completely fascinated by the story. I read it in 2005 so I'll need to reread it to write a proper review but it's a testament to how good it was that it is one of the first book I think of when someone ask me what I like to read.
( )
  LynneMF | Aug 20, 2017 |
Did you know that for centuries, only Asian countries knew the secret of creating porcelain? Neither did I, until I happened upon Janet Gleeson’s The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story. Gleeson’s book tells the story of a self-proclaimed alchemist who convinced a king that he could turn lead into gold. Unable to duplicate his initial “success,” the alchemist was imprisoned until such time as he made good on his claims. He was never able to turn lead into gold, but he did stumble upon the recipe for porcelain. The kicker is that he never really got out of prison—although happy to profit from the sudden fashion for porcelain, the king never forgave the erstwhile alchemist for not turning lead into gold. ( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
Two non-fiction books in a row and both of them dealing with subjects I knew nothing about; this one about the creation of European Porcelain in Meissen and Dresden. I enjoyed this book and found the subject fascinating, but I was never really drawn into the book or engaged with its characters. ( )
  johnwbeha | Nov 18, 2015 |
Who would have thought that a book about the history of European porcelain manufacturing would be a fun read? But that’s exactly what The Arcanum is and it makes this history read like a novel. It is the story of a Johann Frederick Bottger, a precocious young 18th century chemist who in a misguided attempt to prove his worthiness to a King (August the Strong of Saxony and Poland) promises that he has the ability to create gold out of ordinary metals. The King orders Bottger locked away in a castle for years so that he can provide this creation for the King’s benefit.

Eventually, in desperation for some freedom and to avoid execution for fraudulently representing himself, Bottger instead comes up with the formula (the Arcanum) for making hard porcelain in the manner of the Chinese. Chinese porcelain had been highly prized in Europe for its delicacy, beauty and durability. The Europeans could not replicate porcelain until Bottger figured out how. Once he did, August the Strong opened a factory in Meissen, Germany (where it still remains) which produced highly sought beautiful and delicate objects. The book details the intrigues in the factory as well as the plots and conspiracies throughout Europe in efforts to steal the porcelain formula and compete with August’s monopoly on this lucrative, highly desired and valuable luxury.

It really is a fascinating and enjoyable story and Gleeson manages to provide historical and political background as well as a real taste of life in the 1700’s in Europe. If I have one complaint about the book, it is that there are no photos of Meissen porcelain. Given that Meissen established the precedent for this decorative art in Europe, it seems that the inclusion of photos of the porcelain would have added a lot to the book and the lack of photography is a huge omission. Simply put, seeing examples of Meissen would have visually answered the question of what the fuss was all about 300 years ago. ( )
  plt | Jul 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For Paul, Lucy, Annabel and James
First words
It all began with gold.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446674842, Paperback)

Since the middle ages, Western Europeans have practiced alchemy, a primitive form of chemistry, in the great hope of transforming base metal into gold. In the early 18th century, a second great secret puzzled Western Europe's early scientists: how to make porcelain. Recently arrived from the Orient, porcelain quickly became a symbol of power, prestige, and good taste. In The Arcanum, Janet Gleeson presents an entertaining and informative account of the invention of European porcelain and the founding of the Meissen Porcelain Manufacture outside Dresden, Germany.

Her narrative focuses on three individuals: Alchemist Johann Frederick Böttger inadvertently discovered the arcanum, or secret formula, for making porcelain; Johan Gregor Herold, an ambitious artist, developed colors and patterns of unparalleled brilliance at the newly established Meissen Porcelain Manufacture; Johann Joachim Kaendler, a virtuoso sculptor, used the Meissen porcelain to invent a new art form. Interwoven with the story of Augustus the Strong, the greedy and ambitious king of the Kingdom of Saxony, who held Böttger captive until he discovered the formula, Gleeson's tale reads easily and maintains a high level of suspense and intrigue throughout. --Bertina Loeffler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:52 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.76)
0.5
1
1.5
2 3
2.5 3
3 24
3.5 7
4 28
4.5 5
5 15

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 129,532,607 books! | Top bar: Always visible