Magic: A Pictorial History of Conjurers in the Theater. David Price.

Magic: A Pictorial History of Conjurers in the Theater

Cranbury, New Jersey: Cornwall Books, 1985.

Hardcover. 11 1/4" X 9 3/4". 551pp. Moderate edgewear to pictorial dust jacket, with small tears to top corners and to head of spine and small crease to front panel. Black cloth over boards, with spine lettered in gilt. Moderate wear to binding, with bumping to bumping to extremities, hard to top corner of upper board. Binding is firm and sound. Pages are clean and unmarked. An overall presentable copy of David Price's definitive and exhaustive account of the careers of all the great and near-great magicians, illustrated in over four hundred illustrations, many in full color.

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ABOUT THIS BOOK:
This book is a history of magicians in the theater from the time they came in from the streets and carnivals and began competing with actors of the legitimate stage to the beginning of World War II. (The author believes that it is too early to judge the merits of more recent magicians.) All the great magicians--Alexander and Compars Herrmann, Robert Heller, Harry Kellar, Howard Thurston, Houdini, Dante, Blackstone, Cardini, Jose Frakson, Keith Clark, Harry Willard, Sorcar, and many others--are included. Vaudeville magicians, lyceum and chautauqua magicians, outdoor-tent-show magicians, oriental and pseudo-oriental magicians all are given their due. There is even a chapter, called "The Pretenders," on so-called psychics and practitioners of telepathy. The book contains much new information that has never before been published--the result of a lifetime of research and experience in the field--and, in many cases, corrects myths that have sprung up around the careers of famous magicians--many of them encouraged by the magicians themselves.

Magic: A Pictorial History of Conjurers in the Theater begins in the time of Fawkes of Bartholomew Fair and continues through the golden age of magicians, concluding with Sorcar, the modern East Indian maharaja of magic. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw a succession of great magicians; probably the greatest magician of this so-called golden age of magic was Alexander Herrmann (Herrmann the Great), who, with his older brother, Compars, dominated the magic scene during the latter half of the nineteenth century. According to the author, Alexander and Compars were responsible for the stereotyped image of the magician as a tall, thin man with a black mustache and goatee (actually an imperial); even if they happened to be short, fat, and bald, all magicians would be expected to fit this image. After competing with each other for years, the Herrmanns decided to divide the world; it was agreed that Compars would play in Europe and that Alexander would perform only in America.

When Herrmann the Great came to town, he would ride through the streets in his carriage pulled by four white horses, with the townspeople lining the streets as if for a circus parade. Since he was constantly performing impromptu tricks, word about such miracles as turning the mayor's cigar into a live snake would spread through the town and assure Herrmann of a full house at the theater. When Herrmann died aboard his private railway coach, newspapers across the country eulogized him as a national hero, and it was universally believed that magic had died with Herrmann.

There has, in fact, been a decline in the prestige of professional magicians ever since the day in 1896 when Herrmann the Great died, but the decline has been slow, and modern magicians have continued to dazzle audiences with their magic. The careers of these modern and all other major magicians are chronicled in a definitive, exhaustive work that includes over four hundred illustrations, many in full color.

Here is the story of all the great and near-great magicians. This story will not only be of interest to professionals and historians of magic for the light it throws on certain hitherto unexplained mysteries and matters of controversy, but will also appeal to amateurs and laymen and, indeed, to anyone with an interest in the theater. Good + / good +. Item #6346
ISBN: 0845347381

Price: $165.00

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