What do Faust and John Dee, Queen Elizabeth I's official magician, have in common? How to speak the language of angels and use magic crystals? What did Renaissance occultism look like, and how did it affect the modern understanding of magic? Christopher Melke discusses all these issues with György Szőnyi, a specialist in Renaissance and modern literature, whose academic interests include occultism and cultural transfers.

Professor Szőnyi talks about occult practices in the Renaissance, the connection between magic and clergy, and how Renaissance occultism was used by modern writers such as Umberto Eco. Also, he describes various challenges of finding and interpreting sources, and the impact of digitalization, copyright policies, and postmodern reality on the historian's work.


Past Perfect! is CEU Medieval Radio’s show on medieval and early modern history and culture, where Christopher Mielke casually discusses with his guests various issues from the crusades to archeo-zoology to medieval urine sampling. The discussions are made with the aim to popularize medieval and early modern studies with the help of experts such as early musicians, historians, philologists and archeologists.

This episode was first recorded and broadcast in 2012.