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Witchcraft, Magic and Culture, 1736-1951
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2002
Dr Davies addresses an area of witchcraft studies that has, in the past, been somewhat neglected. Many authors have written about witchcraft and magic in the early modern period, but often their studies stop with the passing of the Witchcraft Act of 1736. That belief in magic ceased in the popular mind with the passing of an act of Parliament is, in itself, beyond belief, and Dr Davies demonstrates that witchcraft practices and beliefs continued well into the 20th century, and provides an important continuity in this popular subject.
Drawing on numerous sources the author addresses many aspects of magic and witchcraft, including informal action against suspected witches, and the ubiquitous "cunning-folk," whose influence has perhaps in the past not been fully appreciated.
Other chapters consider magical literature for the period, both for and against supernatural belief, including almancs, broadsides and chapbooks, and the attitudes of the ruling elite.
But this book is far more than a collection af fascinating witchcraft cases; Dr Davies draws compelling conclusions in an area that requires further research, especially in the field of newspaper reports of "witch trials in reverse" - cases of assault on suspected witches, usually in an attempt to draw blood and break the bewitchment.
"Witchcraft, Magic and Culture" is liberally peppered with examples illustrating Dr Davies' points and conclusions. The book is written in a pleasant and readable style, though authoritative and thought-provoking.
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of witchcraft, academic of casual reader alike.
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