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   The Prince is Niccolò Machiavelli’s infamous manual on realpolitik. This sixteenth-century work has provoked more heated debates than any other political treatise but while it rejects lofty ideals, it nonetheless derives valuable insights from the author’s first-hand experience as a respected envoy of Florence. Machiavelli’s conclusion that stable governance can only be achieved by applying empirical pragmatism rather than unrealistic ideology, has proven unpalatable to many.

  To balance the harsh realities of power politics, we recommend two of our “two-in-one” new releases – Rudolf Steiner’s Christianity as Mystical Fact and The Mysteries Of Antiquity and Jacob Boehme’s The Key, or Clavis and The Confessions. Steiner argues that the spiritual claims of Christianity cannot be proved by a literal historical approach to the bible. Rather, it is only through mystical enlightenment or “gnosis” that Christianity’s spiritual message can be truly known and this experience, according to Steiner, is no less an empirical fact than those of orthodox science. He looks at the New Testament with the eyes of a mystic and finds a whole other layer of meaning there – for example, in the Lazarus miracle, which he describes as a spiritual  initiation, “… the point of transition from lower to higher knowledge.”

   Our other spiritual author, Jacob Boehme, was regarded as one of the greatest of the western mystics, though only a humble shoemaker by trade. Boehme spent his whole life in contemplation and prayer, seeking spiritual enlightenment and was rewarded with piercing visions of God and the nature of reality, revelations which he set down in a series of books.  The Clavis is perhaps the most accessible of all these tomes, a detailed, yet succinct, account of the nature of God and Creation, and of humanity’s role within the unfolding evolution of the Universe. The Confessions reveals the man himself, Boehme’s doubts and temptations on the path to his eventual enlightenment.

   We the perfect novel for you to indulge in with a glass of wine by the fire, and that is Aziloth Books’ illustrated edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s gothic horror tale –  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Inspired by the true story of Edinburgh cabinet maker and locksmith, William (Deacon) Brodie, a respected businessman by day and thief by night, this engrossing classic takes to intriguing extremes the widely-held belief that everyone has good and bad sides. It has been justifiably described as “non-putdownable”!

   For our complete list of new releases, see below.

  

Christ the Saviour (Pantokrator),  CHRISTIANITY AS MYSTICAL FACT and THE MYSTERIES OF ANTIQUITY

    This work is a powerful argument for Christianity as a religion of mystical initiation and the only religion in which the eternal wisdom, the Logos, was made flesh – in Christ.  Moreover, unlike the adepts of old, Jesus was “…the initiator of the whole of humanity, and humanity was to be his own community of Mystics.”

   From an early age Austrian-born Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), a respected scholar, felt the reality of the spiritual world and devoted much of his life to proving this assumption by “…introspective observation following the methods of Natural Science.”

   In Christianity as Mystical Fact, Dr. Steiner looks at mysticism within Christianity and also its source in pre-Christian times – the priest sages of the Egyptian mystical schools and Greece’s famous initiates such as Solon, Aristides and Plato. He argues that the spiritual claims of Christianity cannot be proved by a literal historical approach to the bible. Rather, it is only through mystical enlightenment or “gnosis” that Christianity’s spiritual message can be truly known and this experience, according to Steiner, is no less an empirical fact than those of orthodox science. He looks at the New Testament with the eyes of a mystic and finds a whole other layer of meaning there – for example, in the Lazarus miracle, which he describes as a spiritual  initiation, “… the point of transition from lower to higher knowledge.”

portrait of Douglass over background painting of slaves escaping to freedom  NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS, AN AMERICAN SLAVE: Unabridged, with chronology, bibliography and map

   Born into slavery, Frederick Douglass ignored his master's veto on black education and taught himself to read and write. Escaping to the Northern States in 1838, Douglass became an ardent abolitionist, campaigning passionately against all aspects of human bondage.

   His 'Narrative' is a classic of black emancipation: a life story replete with tales of cruelty and oppression, of courage and love. Like a later victim of black subjugation – Nelson Mandela – it is Douglass' ability to control his anger and resentment in the face of almost intolerable provocation that most impresses the reader. While bitingly ironic at times, his prose remains reasoned and restrained and his compassion even allows him to pity the dehumanizing effects of slavery on the slave owners themselves. Douglass’ story is all the more powerful for these qualities.

wood carving image of Sigurd Fåvnesbane kills the dragon Fáfnir  HERE BE DRAGONS  

   John Nigel Cross offers us a compelling collection of poems, many inspired by the old Norse dragon myths, others drawing on the timeless contemplations of loneliness, love and the mystery of life. A personal expression about battles, both physical and intangible.

painting of Lenin  IMPERIALISM, THE HIGHEST STAGE OF CAPITALISM, A POPULAR OUTLINE: Unabridged, with original tables and footnotes

   Those seeking a handle on the nature of modern capitalism and war, can do no better than to start with this incisive analysis by Lenin – it still applies, writ large, today.

Ideologically a Marxist, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, (better known as Lenin), wrote copiously on political and economic systems, passionately believing in the need for a total rejection of capitalism by the proletariat worldwide.

   Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism looks at how Western capitalism in the mid-1800s transitioned inexorably from small businesses competing with one another into huge monopolies that concentrated labour, industry, natural resources and bank finance. Competition, a core element of capitalism, was a casualty of this process and most of the profits went to a top strata of society. Because the system was inherently growth-driven, the powerful oligarchy of financiers, industrialists and governments sought new prospects outside of their native countries in the form of  a territorial ‘land grab’ backed by military might.

   This last inexorable stage of capitalism saw the world’s undeveloped countries carved up between the likes of Great Britain, France and Germany and was, in Lenin’s view, the very essence of imperialism, a state of affairs to be countered at all costs.

 painting of 19th century London scene, with silhouette of menacing-looking man   THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE: Illustrated

   Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale takes to intriguing extremes the widely-held belief that everyone has good and bad sides. First published in 1886, the story is justly famous; it has spawned countless stage and film adaptations and “Jekyll and Hyde” has entered the English language as an epithet for someone whose personality oscillates between extremes.

   Stevenson’s tale was inspired by the true story of Edinburgh cabinet maker and locksmith, William (Deacon) Brodie, a respected businessman by day and thief by night.  Brodie was caught and hanged in 1788, on gallows that many believe he himself helped to design.

sculpture of 'Female Slave Lamenting'   THE HISTORY OF MARY PRINCE, A WEST INDIAN SLAVE, Related by Herself: With the Narrative of Asa-Asa, A Captured African

   Mary Prince was the first black woman to escape from slavery in the British colonies and to publish a record of her life in bondage.  Born into servitude, at the tender age of twelve she witnessed the ruin of her family, with her mother and each of her siblings sold off to separate owners, after which she herself was passed from master to master, all of whom subjected her to sexual or physical abuse.  In this vivid and graphic account she describes the hideous working conditions of those enslaved, and the barbaric, arbitrary punishments meted out for minor or imagined misdemeanours, many of which led to the death of those oppressed.  
   In her middle years Mary was taken to England, where (all slaves being automatically freed on touching English soil) she fled her former owner and took refuge with Thomas Pringle - a staunch abolitionist - who aided the editing of these her memoirs, first published to wide acclaim in 1831.
   Included in this fully annotated edition are five illustrations and one map, Thomas Pringle’s report on the life and character of Mary Prince, and a short account of the trials of Asa-Asa, a young man who was captured during inter-tribal warfare and held as a slave in Africa for six months, before being sold into the Atlantic Slave Trade.

painting of The East Offering Its Riches To Britannia  LETTERS CONCERNING THE ENGLISH NATION

   Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet) was born into a wealthy Parisian family in 1694.  His intellectual powers made him a justly influential figure in the Enlightenment, but he seemed to court controversy, twice lampooning the regent Philipe D’Orleans, which earned him first exile from Paris, and then a year in the Bastille. On release, Voltaire continued to ride a roller-coaster between fame and ill-repute, becoming again a royal favourite until a love affair (and imminent duel) led to the threat of further imprisonment, a fate he escaped only by seeking exile across the Channel in May 1726. He would not return for almost three years.

   Letters Concerning the English Nation is the fruit of this time in England, where he met King George I,  perfected his English, and conversed with the likes of Jonathan Swift, Bolingbroke, and other lions of English Literary Society.  He read widely, his open, analytical mind consuming a swathe of topics across the Arts and Science. The result is an enthralling series of essays, shot through with Voltaire’s hallmark acerbic wit, celebrating the openness of 18th Century English society, its relatively meritocratic nature, and covering such disparate subjects as Trade, Sir Isaac Newton’s Optics, Parliament, The Royal Society, Inoculation, John Locke, and The Quakers. Though lauded in Britain, in France this book was burned and the publisher jailed.

sketch of a middle-aged lady  MY MOM'S COOKBOOK

   This is a unique cookbook – in which the hearty no-nonsense cooking of England meets spicy Central European cuisine, redolent with innumerable herbs and exotic flavours. The dishes in the book are born of a unique combination of circumstances that will probably never be repeated.

   Jasmin Cross has collected and collated the delicious recipes of her Austrian mother who, as a trained cook, spent over thirty years of her working life modifying and improving her traditional fare for finicky British palettes. The result is recipes that you will discover nowhere else. If you are looking for lean ‘one berry on a plate’ nouveau cuisine, do NOT buy this book. What you will find here are sumptuous, plate-filling, comforting dishes that can easily be prepared and will have you and your family clamouring for more. You may find that you are spending more time in the kitchen – but who cares? You’ll be enjoying yourself!

painting of Lorenzo de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino by Raphael   THE PRINCE

   As a manual on realpolitik, this sixteenth-century work has provoked more heated debates than any other political treatise. While it rejects lofty ideals, it nonetheless derives valuable insights from the author’s first-hand experience as a respected envoy of Florence.

    Italy in the renaissance period was a battleground of warring factions, both within states and without, so successful governance was no easy task. Niccolò Machiavelli examines how princedoms in Renaissance Italy can be effectively governed and maintained. This he does by noting the “…actions of great men, acquired in the course of (his) long experience of modern affairs and a continual study of antiquity.”

    Arguing from such empirical evidence, he shows what works to achieve stable control, and what does not. Harsh measures are sometimes necessary but contrary to a common misconception held by many of his critics, he warns against ignoring the welfare and goodwill of the populace. Indeed, some commentators feel Machiavelli was unjustly maligned, pointing out that here was a man who was unremitting in his efforts to secure a good and popular government for his native Florence, and who wanted Italy’s honour and pride restored.  It was to these ends that he wrote The Prince.

Tree of Dark and Light; from ‘Studium Universale’.  THE KEY, OR CLAVIS OF JACOB BOEHME and THE CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME: With and Introduction by Evelyn Underhill

   Acknowledged as one of the greatest of the western mystics, Jacob Boehme was born in 1575 at Old Seidenberg, a small village in Silesia.  A shoemaker by trade, Boehme’s whole life was spent in contemplation and prayer, seeking spiritual enlightenment.  He was rewarded with piercing visions of God and the nature of reality, revelations which he set down in a series of books.  The Clavis is perhaps the most accessible of all these tomes, a detailed, yet succinct, account of the nature of God and Creation, and of humanity’s role within the unfolding evolution of the Universe.

   In 1895 the Reverend Dr. Alexander Whyte bemoaned the lack of a Boehme biography, suggesting that a compilation of the many biographic details scattered throughout his works would give the student a better insight into his thoughts and ideas.  W. Scott Palmer took up the challenge and the result, The Confessions of Jacob Boehme, serves to shine a light on the doubts and temptations that lay on the path to Boehme’s eventual enlightenment.

  medieval painting of Aristotle  THE POLITICS

   Written over two thousand years ago, Aristotle’s celebrated work discusses the various benefits and dangers of the major political systems of his time: republic, democracy, aristocracy, oligarchy and tyranny, with a view to deciding which constitutes the ideal polity.  Along the way, we are treated to discussions on a wide swathe of topics, from music and the role of women, through warfare, slavery and the education of children, to the responsibilities of a citizen, and what constitutes the ‘good life’ (for Aristotle: “to achieve happiness and pursue virtue”).  
   Not all of the great Philosopher’s conclusions chime with our modern ideas, but his penetrating, thought-provoking analyses will stir your mind, and surprise with their continued relevance. 

 John Stuart Mill   UTILITARIANISM: The Morality of Happiness

   Born in 1806, John Stuart Mill was a prodigy: at six he had had written a history of Rome and by eight he was reading both Plato and Sophocles in the original Greek. Open-minded and magnanimous, in early adulthood John Stuart Mills was far ahead of his time, espousing just about every progressive ideal, from total sexual equality, through slave emancipation and votes for the working classes, to the absolute right to contraception. In 'Utilitarianism', Mill argues for the rightness of this philosophy, which is based on the principle that "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness", and originates from the social nature of humanity. In five chapters he clearly sets forth a more nuanced and complex idea of this important moral and social theory.

Map of Utopia. (First Edition 1516)  UTOPIA

   Sir Thomas More coined the word Utopia (meaning ‘No Place') to emphasise his conviction that in no corner of the world had humanity attained to the perfect society. Writing in 1516, More attempted to describe the basis of just such a civilisation, founded upon the principles of rationality, equality, and common ownership. But More's vision is not wholly rose-tinted: he acknowledges the imperfections of human nature, and attempts to construct an ideal society in which individuals fulfilling their baser urges would at the same time act in the best interest of the community. Nearly 500 years of social experiment now divide us from Utopia's author (and the ideal society is arguably no nearer), but Sir Thomas' book still has much to teach us.