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Malleus Maleficarum [Paperback]

Heinrich Kramer , James Sprenger , Montague Summers
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Jan 2010
First written in 1486 by zealous Inquisitors of the Catholic Church, "The Witch Hammer" came to be the witch-hunting handbook of the fifteenth century. Its main purpose was to refute doubts of the existence of witchcraft, though it proceeds to prove women more susceptible than men, as well as to outline procedures that allowed law enforcers to discover and convict witches. Because of the papal bull acknowledging the validity of this previously pagan belief, the persecution of alleged witches became widespread and brutal with the printing of "Malleus Maleficarum" on the recently invented printing press. Though some of the claims in this work are perhaps humorous to the modern reader, countless individuals lost their lives due to the prevalence of this book throughout late Medieval Europe, and today it can serve as a both a collection of superstitious folklore and a warning against mass hysteria and ignorance.

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Malleus Maleficarum + Compendium Maleficarum: The Montague Summers Edition (Dover Occult) + The Discoverie of Witchcraft (Dover Occult)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: (30 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420934503
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420934502
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 353,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Handle with care 1 Feb 2008
This version of Malleus is handy more for students of literature than for students of history or those wishing to seriously study the history of the paranormal. This particular version - the Montague Summers translation - is inaccurate as an historical source and those who seek to use it as such are backing a loser. Summers mistranslated much of the original latin either by accident or design; he uses a single word - "witch" - for a multitude of nouns which vary in gender application; they are either male, female or simply ambiguous and common to both. Summers also had his own social agenda, really believing that a powerful cult of devil worshipping sorceresses stalked the middle ages and deserved to be wiped out.

Yes, the original text is at times misogynistic in tone. So what. So was medieval and early modern European society in general. So are many societies worldwide today. It is NOT however the venomously misogynistic tome which this translation would have the reader believe. For those who wish to study how different versions of the same book can emerge over time, for those who study literature in general, then the book is an interesting curiosity. This version's historical importance, however, is over-stated and undeserved, for it is really only of use as a tool to examine attitudes to witchcraft in the 20th and 21st centuries, not as a yardstick for those attitudes at the time when the original was written.

The serious student of the subject is advised to consult the newer translation by P.G Maxwell-Stuart, an expert in the field with no agenda to pursue rather than the provision of an accurate version of the text. Montague Summers was an eccentric and enthusiastic, not to mention partisan and deeply flawed, layman.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scary, but not easy to read 13 Mar 2004
By Gisli Jokull Gislason VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For Medieval Witch Hunting, this is the book to read. Established in 1484 by a Bull (something like a decree) by the Catholic Pope Innocent VIII, this would be the handbook for witch procecution. Originally in Latin this is the turn of the 1900 century translation into fairly old English.
Heavy to read and almost impossible to do so in one go, the book is seperated into 3 chapters. 1st part is Church Philosophy debating if witches can exists in the face of God and why he allows them to be (the answer is of corse positive since its authors are witch hunters), 2nd is about the powers of witches and how to counter them and the 3rd is about how witches should be brought to justice. The second and third chapter are more interesting than the first (unless you are into medieval Church Philosophy) and incredible due to the fact that its authors truely believe what they write! It is in their belief that most of the horror of the book is to be found. In the 2nd Chapter there are surprisingly detailed descriptions of witch activities and I imagine this to be an interesting handbook for those interested in such matters. Do not expect much about interrigation methods of what would become the Inqusition but there is a pharagraph that states that all witches should be interogated at least twice, once with torture and once without, for it is possible that persons interrogated under torture will admit to things they are innocent of. I also feel it helps the translation that the translator also believes the text to hold much truth as is made clear by the foreword. Lastly as a point of scary coinsidence. I live abroad and must pay custums and VAT (yes of books too) on arrival of the package and I ordered this book by itself and had to pay a total of...
yes, you guessed it...
*666 kronas*. I glued the invoice to the inside cover of the book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This infamous text is essential for any serious student of witchcraft in early modern Europe. Jakob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer were two Dominican monks who wrote this ‘guide’ to witchcraft in 1486. It served as a guide book for inquisitors during the Inquisition, providing information on identifying witches, wringing confessions from them and discussing suitable punishment of offenders.
This text has become the definitive example of misogyny in the witch-hunts. Throughout the book there are negative references to women such as ‘When a woman thinks alone she thinks evil’, ‘She is a liar by nature’, ‘she is more carnal than a man as shown by her carnal abominations’. It also goes on to describe women as defective, weak, and basically claims any misfortune from illness through to crop failure was due to malign magic. Nothing had a natural cause in their view. Witches, according to Kramer and Sprenger, were responsible for all this plus infanticide, cannibalism, consorting with demons and any other abominable behaviour they could imagine.
Putting the misogyny aside, this text gives an in depth, if somewhat harrowing, view of what was involved when identifying, interrogating and punishing the unfortunate accused. It is not a comfortable read to say the least, showing as it does mankind’s complete inhumanity to fellow man during this period. This is no lightweight, quick read but it is divided into manageable sections that make it less onerous to study and an excellent contents section makes it very simple to find particular topics. As a primary source it is an invaluable study aid and is a book that is a ‘must have’ on any historians bookshelf.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I can't say I like a book written to cause the deaths of thousands of...
I needed this book for a book I am writing, and I did get a few short quotes from it. It is well written in English. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Metreger
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read and reference book
My wife has found this a challenging but excellent book which has helped understanding of similar works on a broader front.
Published 12 months ago by Peter Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously quirky book
This is a wonderful book full of the background and history and subsequent contradictory nature of the Church against witches. Read more
Published 13 months ago by jhwilts
5.0 out of 5 stars Malleus Maleficarum, Malleus Mundi really.
It is frankly impossible to give this book a meaningful rating.
I give it five stars simply because you must read it. Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2005 by matthew_panton
5.0 out of 5 stars A fasinating book for serious historical interest
This isnt a book for lovers of fairytale Witches. It's a text giving insight into the frenzied, misogynistic, Christian thinking of the middle ages. Read more
Published on 23 Feb 2002 by S. Flijani
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Good
I think much truth can be found in this tome. I think the world is full of witches and the world need these teachings more than ever.
Published on 1 Aug 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars A chilling portrayal of fear and prejudice
The really scary thing about this book is that people believed it. It's mysoginist, poorly researched, paranoid, and uses all manner of nasty rumours and impossible conundrums to... Read more
Published on 26 Mar 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars "Reader beware"
Let the reader beware: Kramer & Sprenger have a well-deserved reputation for misogyny, and a contempt for judicial restraint that translated into death sentences for thousands... Read more
Published on 26 Jan 1998
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