Questions of the Heart, as Reflected in the Recently Republished Book, Sorcerers


An enthralling blend of sorcery, religion and philosophy, from which Jacob Needleman creates a brilliant moral fable for our times.

Sorcerers is the story of a teenage boy growing up in 1950s Philadelphia who is swept into a world of mysterious powers and extraordinary human possibilities.  On the threshold of maturity and yearning for something he cannot name, adolescent Eliot Appleman is welcomed into the Sorcerer's Apprentices, a club of young stage magicians, and is soon drawn into a perilous clash between two conflicting forces—the compulsion to manipulate others and the need to discover the deeper truths about his own nature.

As Reflected in the Questions of the Heart


What can we know?

How should we live?

“Ask yourself: what’s the ideal trick? The boy climbs a rope, vanishes, his limbs fall to the ground, the magician throws them in a casket, and then out jumps the boy alive and kicking. The magician manipulates death, gravity, the structure of the human body. Eliot, every trick you do—if your act is serious—must have you controlling laws that others must submit to. That’s why you have to work with simple, fundamental objects. Elaborate apparatus is only good when fantastic things happen with it, things that are so impossible they could never happen no matter what apparatus one has. The apparatus then serves a definite purpose: it makes the audience believe you have access to powerful objects. That’s why good apparatus has to either look weird and outlandish, from another world, or it has to be simple and familiar. So, there are two kinds of magic: one where you have the power directly, like the fakir, or the other where you possess objects that have the power. Irene’s favorite was the linking rings: simple, perfect circles of steel. The audience examines them . . . let me show you.”

Who am I?

"More thoughts and questions came to him—about his own life, what he should do, what career to follow. But these things did not seem so important now, certainly not enough to waste his one wish on them. But then what was the most important thing in his life, really? He had seen that by using the power, under Blake, he had been able to get whatever he wanted—money, sex, honors—and that it still wasn’t enough. Guided by Max, he had touched something entirely different, something he never could have imagined wanting, and it was enough, more than enough. Yet it always cost him so much. It was always bought with a price. And he knew that he had barely scratched the surface of what Max had to offer him. Irene then spoke again. “Turn on your power, Eliot.”