Robert-Houdin books

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degrisy
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Robert-Houdin books

Postby degrisy » August 29th, 2015, 10:30 am

Somebody knows the title of the two-volume set on magic that Robert-Houdin received by mistake instead of the two-volume set of books on clockmaking that he was willing to buy? Thank you.
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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby jamessmith » August 29th, 2015, 11:24 am

He went into the bookshop to purchase Berthoud's Treatise on Clockmaking and ended up with the Dictionnaire Encyclopedique des Amusemens des Sciences, Mathématiques et Physiques.

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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby Philippe Billot » August 29th, 2015, 2:03 pm


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degrisy
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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby degrisy » September 9th, 2015, 2:58 pm

Thank you. Where can be found this information?
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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 9th, 2015, 3:56 pm

Degrisy, I believe you can find the information you seek in The Magic of Robert-Houdin, Volumes 1 and 2: An Artist's Life by Christian Fechner. You may also want to check out The Memoirs of Robert Houdin.

Houdin was the son of a clockmaker, and worked as a watchmaker before pursuing a career as a magician.

According to Biography.com: "With his background in clocks, Robert-Houdin brought electricity to the magic stage for the first time, and his inventiveness awarded him the title of the Father of Modern Magic...Famous for making orange trees grow before an audience's eyes and suspending bodies in air, Robert-Houdin was forced to reveal his tricks to authorities to avoid prosecution for witchcraft."

That lends new meaning to the expression, "burning your hands!"

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Postby Philippe Billot » September 9th, 2015, 4:19 pm

Robert-Houdin, himself, page 46 in his book Confidences d'un prestidigitateur, published in 1858, explains that he wants to buy the book Traité d'horlogerie by Berthoud and the seller makes a mistake and gives him Amusements des sciences.

Translate in english as Memoirs of Robert-Houdin in 1859 by Lascelles Wraxall

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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 9th, 2015, 4:23 pm

Thanks for that clarification. It is staggering to contemplate that one individual's clerical error led to profoundly altering not just one man's life, but the entire course of magical history.

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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby Philippe Billot » September 9th, 2015, 4:25 pm

You have a link here to get the book in english :

http://www.geniimagazine.com/magicpedia ... ert-Houdin

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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby Zig Zagger » September 9th, 2015, 4:57 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Thanks for that clarification. It is staggering to contemplate that one individual's clerical error led to profoundly altering not just one man's life, but the entire course of magical history.


Yes, it is - if it is true. I think we must not forget that many autobiographies present a stylized and better version of the author than he actually was. It may have been just a ruse of dramatization, to sort of stumble into the story and into magic.

As Wikipedia states: "Much of what we know about Robert-Houdin comes from his memoirs—and his writings were meant more to entertain than to chronicle, rendering it difficult to separate fact from fiction."

If I remember correctly, Robert-Houdin has been accused of making up a couple of things in his book, including his supposed mentor, the mysterious Torrini? But I'm no expert on that subject.

Maybe our French friends could share more on this?
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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 9th, 2015, 5:19 pm

Point well taken. However, the story of the mix-up in the books is also chronicled in the Fechner book. Of course, ultimately Robert-Houdin, himself, had to have been the progenitor of the story, be it true or false, so I guess Fechner does not provide independent verification.

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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby Zig Zagger » September 9th, 2015, 6:13 pm

Just noticed the little irony that Torrini was supposedly a noble man by the name of de Grisy - and this thread was started by degrisy! :)
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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 9th, 2015, 6:26 pm

PS Zig Zagger, your skepticism of Robert-Houdin is shared by no less of a luminary than his (pen) namesake, Harry Houdini. In the Unmasking of Robert-Houdin (The Publishers Printing Company, New York, 1908), Houdini claims Robert-Houdin possessed no more than "average" skill as a conjuror, and methodically and mercilessly offers evidence that virtually none of the illusions for which Robert-Houdin is renowned were his own.

For example, at the very end of Chapter II ("The Orange Tree Trick"), Houdini writes:

"To sum up the evidence against Robert-Houdin in this particular trick: Four magicians of high repute gave public performances before Robert-Houdin knew and operated the orange-tree trick. Three eminent writers exposed it clearly and accurately. Robert-Houdin, as an indefatigable student of the history of magic, must have known of the trick and its modus operandum. He may have purchased it from Cornillot, or as a clever mechanician he had only to reproduce the trick invented by his predecessors, train his confederate in its operation—and—by his cleverly written autobiography—attempt to establish his claim to its invention."

The book is available for free as an ebook if anyone wants to check it out. I started reading it, and it is FASCINATING, and chock full of great photographs, lithographs, programmes, newspaper and magazine clippings, and posters. Here's the link:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/42723/42 ... m#page_033

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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby Bill Mullins » September 9th, 2015, 11:24 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote: The book is available for free as an ebook if anyone wants to check it out. I started reading it, and it is FASCINATING, and chock full of great photographs, lithographs, programmes, newspaper and magazine clippings, and posters. Here's the link:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/42723/42 ... m#page_033


This version may be a little more user-friendly.

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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 10th, 2015, 1:12 am

Thanks Bill.

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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby Philippe Billot » September 10th, 2015, 2:41 am

To be objective, you have to read :

Where Houdini was Wrong by Maurice Sardina (1950) translate par Victor Farelli

Houdini's "Unmasking": Fact vs. Fiction by Jean Hugard (1957)


All about Torini is a fiction but it was common, at that time, to romanticize his life.

I know of no magician who begun without reading a book, except now with Internet. (Sorry for this sentence which is not in good english)

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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby degrisy » September 10th, 2015, 4:12 pm

Zig Zagger wrote:Just noticed the little irony that Torrini was supposedly a noble man by the name of de Grisy - and this thread was started by degrisy! :)


Well, I chose this nick exactly because Count Edmond de Grisy started Robert-Houdin to magic!
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Re: Robert-Houdin books

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 10th, 2015, 5:23 pm

Yes, Phillippe, I will definitely read the books you have suggested. I am somehow fascinated by this topic and would like to put the pieces of the puzzle together in an objective fashion. My very first Magic Book, which I read when I was age nine was, Houdini on Magic (copyright 1953, Edited by Walter Gibson and Morris N. Young). It was Houdini who inspired me to pursue a career in magic and who I wanted to emulate, just as Houdini freely acknowledges that it was Robert-Houdin who was his hero and who catapulted him into magic. The irony is that, without Robert-Houdin, Houdini might never have become a magician and later an escapologist, and yet in Unmasking Robert-Houdin, it is Robert-Houdin's (once) greatest admirer who rips his reputation to shreds.

Have you read Unmasking Robert-Houdin? If so, do you feel Houdini acted in bad faith and/or had insufficient evidence?


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