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VINE VOICEon 6 January 2007
It's great to see a reissue of the greatest fairy book of them all, Robert Kirk's 1691 tome, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies. This amazing book--with its descriptions of second sight, of doublemen or co-walkers, and of fairy lives, customs and even past-times--has an amazing backstory attached to it too. Kirk, seventh son of a seventh son(in the Highlands, almost a guarantee of psychic powers) was a bilingual(English and Gaelic) Episcopalian pastor, working at Aberfoyle in the Trossachs area of the Highlands. The material he collected in this book comes direct from his Highland parishioners but he also compiled it for the delectation of his enlightened and curious friends in England, so the book is an eccentric mixture of the very folkoric and the proto-scientific. (Kirk also had a metaphysical reason for compiling the book--and an interesting one, given the attitude of many religious fundamentalists today to such beliefs. He felt that if people discounted or ridiculed such beliefs then it wouldn't be long before they started discounting all supernatural things, including a belief in God Himself.) Anyway, not long after the publication of the book, Kirk was found stone dead one morning at the foot of the Dun Sidh (doonshee, or fairy hill) at Aberfoyle. Though his red sandstone gravestone is in the Aberfoyle cemetery(with only a mention of his work in translating the Bible into Gaelic, and not his fairy work), it's said that his body is not in that grave but that he was spirited body and soul into the great tall Scots pine that sits at the top of the Dun Sidh, surrounded by an army of little oaks. That was because the fairies were reputedly so angry with him for divulging their secrets! Today, the site is still extraordinary, spooky--with hundreds of wishes on ribbons tied to all those little oaks, and the Scots pine standing there alone..It's easy to believe in Kirk's curious and piteous fate.

A must-have addition for the library of anyone interested in fairies, Highland folklore, and myth. For those who are interested, I have a piece about Kirk on my site at [...] And for those interested in reading novels inspired by this book, the greatest is Australian writer Christopher Koch's 'The Doubleman.'
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on 21 January 2008
... written in the late 17th Century by a Scottish Episcopalian Minister with an apparently sincere belief in the world of the supernatural. At a time when witches were still being condemned, Robert Kirk was collecting the stories of his parishioners and fashioning them into an account of a parallel world of sprites, wraiths, fauns, elves and spirits. The book also includes an excellent introduction by Marina Warner.
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on 18 April 2012
This Extraordinary book is ruined by its terrible introduction and commentary by Andrew Lang which seems completely off the mark. For a well researched and thoroughly experiential commentary which delves deeply into the material presented in the text then look no further than R.J Stewart's excellent edition available on amazon:Robert Kirk: Walker Between the Worlds
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on 30 January 2010
I've been curious about this book for a while and it was as charming as I had hoped. The Rev Robert Kirk must have been some man. It's just a shame that the 19th century introduction by Andrew Lang (which takes up a full 50% of this short book) is tediously repetitive and far more interested in psychic phenomenon than in fairy belief. This is a curio, probably only worth buying for those with some connection to the topic either through their heritage or their belief system. It will teach you only a little, but is an interesting read (assuming you skip the introduction).
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on 2 December 2015
This is a lovely clean reprint of an indispensable volume of accounts of faerie in the late 1600's. Definitely recommended; earlier editions are either terribly expensive or impossible to find.
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on 18 May 2014
Written 400 years ago,relevant today,matter of fact style and explains,understands,a must for all interested in this phenomena and general reading public
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on 2 December 2009
As this little treatise was written over 300 years ago it almost needs translation for a lay readership. The introduction and the History of the Book and Author feel of almost equal antiquity and impenetrability. Together they are longer than Robert Kirk's essay. In fact little is said about Fairies and the "Good Folk" by Robert Kirk and rather more about native Scottish Seers and their feats and abilities. So this is a quirky and interesting read.It is especially striking that a man of the cloth was so comfortable to research these matters and report on them without expecting wrath or ridicule.
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on 13 June 2016
a bit difficult to get into as scottish ha ha but very interesting have read it four times one of those books for your imagination
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on 17 November 2015
Dust jacket a little grubbier than I expected but otherwise OK
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on 12 January 2015
Christmas gift for someone ...who loved it
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