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Magnificent Magician - Robert-Houdin

Aug 17, 2007
Robert-Houdin who was born in Blois is often credited as being "the father of modern magic". Before him, magicians performed in marketplaces and at fairs, but Robert-Houdin performed magic in theatres and private parties. He wore formal clothes, like those of his audiences. Many magicians today mimic this by wearing tail-coats, though some magicians consider this as old-fashioned and prefer contemporary clothes. The stage name of Harry Houdini was taken in tribute to him, though Houdini later denounced Robert-Houdin. He is widely considered the pioneer in the modern performance art of illusion.

Robert-Houdin was a watchmaker, and he made mechanical toys and machines. From an early age he had been interested in sleight of hand and juggling, and in 1845 he began to exhibit his skill, soon becoming famous for his tricks.

The Arabs of Algeria were said to be excited to rebel against French colonialists by false miracles performed by their religious leaders. In 1856, led by Napoleon 3rd the French government sent Robert-Houdin there, hoping that he might perform tricks that were far more impressive, thereby dissolving the excitement of the rebels. It is said that Robert-Houdin's tricks, succeeded in breaking up the influence of the priests. Moreover, the Arabs became afraid of Robert-Houdin.

For a trick, he asked an Arab to shoot him with a marked bullet, but instead of killing him, the bullet was found between his teeth. After that, they believed Robert-Houdin could do anything. Robert-Houdin was not the first illusionist to perform the bullet catch and many since him have adapted their own version of the effect.

He used another famous trick to prove that French magic was stronger then local shamanism techniques: he presented an empty box with an iron bottom that anyone could lift up. By turning on an electro-magnet hidden under the floor, he made it immovable, "proving" that through will power, he could make it impossible to lift for the strongest Algerian warriors. He then claimed he could make the strong man too weak to lift a trunk that could be lifted by a small child.

He openly admitted his tricks were 'deceptions' to authorities, in order to avoid prosecution for witchcraft. It is obvious he lived for magic, performing even on vacation and constantly conjuring new ideas. His wife was often involved in his extremely clever and innovative tricks. Robert-Houdin's home in Blois is open to the public as a theatre and museum called Maison de la Magie, opposite Chateau Blois.
About the Author
Corina Clemence runs a luxury french chateau in the Loire Valley near Blois, for up to fifteen people perfect for touring vineyards and chateaux and relaxing french holidays. It is also ideal for a french wedding, party or event. Rent the whole castle or rent a suite. Rent a castle in France. Hire castle - hire chateau Rent castle http://www.loirechateau.com Rent chateau France
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