Nostradamus, the 16th-century seer, wrote over a thousand verse prophecies in a deliberately veiled mixture of Old French...


NOSTRADAMUS: Countdown to Apocalypse

Nostradamus, the 16th-century seer, wrote over a thousand verse prophecies in a deliberately veiled mixture of Old French anagrams, allusions, and multilingual puns--and commentators have been coming up with rival decipherings ever since. French scholar de Fontbrune, son of a prominent Nostradamus-interpreter, has devoted a lifetime of sober research--in contrast to what he sees as the prejudices and slapdashery of his predecessors--to decoding every single prophecy, ""leaving no detail unconsidered."" Half of the prophecies--the major half--are collected here; and as translator Lykiard warns, they don't make for ""a consecutive or 'easy' read."" The original oracles are given, rearranged chronologically--that is, in order of the past and future events which de Fontbrune has determined they predict (Napoleon, the Belle Epoque, World War III, etc.). For each verse, he provides a one- or two-sentence deciphering telling what Nostradamus really meant. To buttress his identifications for the prophecies which foretold events now past, he adds extracts from standard histories, chosen to exhibit similarities between Nostradamus' vision and the recorded event--supposedly, an assurance of objectivity. (If Nostradamus predicts the birth of a child who will seduce great crowds with his oratory, and de Fontbrune wants to identify this figure with Hitler, well and good. But quoting the Encyclopaedia Universalis' account of Hitler doesn't make the identification one iota more ""factual."") And that's about it: no discussion, no analysis, little clue (despite a section ""on Method"") as to how de Fontbrune arrived at a particular meaning for a particular verse. He has ""abstained"" from commenting, he says--but half the interest of prophecy interpretation lies in the decoding process. (Why, for instance, should a rather vague quatrain about peace talks refer to the 1990s?) Still, his interpretations are less daffy, and closer to the text, than many; and his unquestionable integrity counts for something in fringe studies. Serious students will find the book attractive.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1983

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