English transl. c1995.
1 Origins. 2 Graeco-Egyptian alchemy. 3 From antiquity to the Middle Ages. 4 Within the monastery walls. 5 Books and language. 6 The great work. 7 Some famous alchemists. 8 The century of the Rosicrucians. 9 Decline and resurgence. 10 The alchemists in European society
'Alchemy has always been interpreted according to two different points of view. The first is the realm of the historians of science, for whom alchemy was merely the inept and superstitious forerunner of chemistry, a covert practice performed by artful swindlers and misguided fools who sought to achieve the Elixir of Life and the wonderous Philosopher's Stone which could turn base metals into gold. The second is the view taken by the mystics, for whom alchemy was a magico-esoteric discipline the apparent chemical overtones of which were no more than allegories of the inner search for transcendental knowledge. In reality it is impossible to understand alchemy unless each one of its multifold aspects is examined to the full and envisaged as an integral part of the same tradition.'