Set in Europe during the Protestant Reformation, 'St. Leon' relates the travails of an impoverished French aristocrat, Count Reginald de St. Leon, who obtains the philosopher's stone and the elixir of immortality, elixir vitae, from a mysterious stranger named Francesco Zampieri. In this philosophical fable, endless riches and immortal life prove to be curses rather than gifts and transform St. Leon into an outcast. St. Leon becomes an alchemist who can create gold and who possesses immortal life. As a result, his son Charles rejects him, he is separated from his daughters, and his wife Marguerite de Damville becomes impoverished and dies. He is the target of German authorities and the Spanish Inquisition. He also encounters a Hungarian misanthrope named Bethlem Gabor. William Godwin's second Gothic vel explores the predicament of a would-be philanthropist whose attempts to benefit humanity are frustrated by superstition and igrance. The vel explores the themes of immortality, the domestic affections, and alchemy. The vel is a radical experiment in fictional genres. Into a historical vel of vast range and violence Godwin melded elements of the domestic vel, the philosophical vel, and the scientific fantasy. More relentlessly than the earlier 'Caleb Williams', this vel tests Godwin's philosophical premises to destruction, showing the importance-and failure-of family affections and the disintegration of effective social responsibility. Please te that this is NOT a facsimile but a modern edition of this great vel.