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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
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...
Published on 13 Mar 2004 by Gisli Jokull Gislason

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Handle with care
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...
Published on 1 Feb 2008 by Deadletters


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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. The serious student is advised to track down a copy of Martin Del Rio's "Investigations Into Magic" - also translated by Maxwell-Stuart - as well. Trust me it will be worth it, and Malleus makes more sense when considered as just one of a series of related texts rather than an isolated case. While you're at it, try Menghi's "The Devil's Scourge" as well.

FYI - Heinrich Kramer and Heinricus Institoris - two individuals listed among the authors - were actually the same person. In addition, Kramer was the main author, not Sprenger, the involvement of whom was fleeting at best, and is now itself in doubt.
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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 "Jokull" (Iceland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for any student of the witch-hunts in Europe., 9 Nov 2005
By 
Ms. H. Sinton "dragondrums" (Ingleby Barwick. U.K.) - See all my reviews
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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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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A chilling portrayal of fear and prejudice, 26 Mar 1999
By A Customer
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 trap its targets - "witches" who may or may not have been heretics or non-Christians.
The translation is stodgy reading and it's more useful as a study aid or reference than as something to browse, but still a standard work on medieval witchcraft from the Church perspective. As a previous reviewer said, it has the feel of "Mein Kampf" about it. Nasty.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Malleus Maleficarum, Malleus Mundi really., 22 Jan 2005
It is frankly impossible to give this book a meaningful rating.
I give it five stars simply because you must read it.
This book is a product of dark days when superstition and paranoia were rife and everyone was a potential agent of evil. A time when those in power created a climate of fear in order to justify their own ends, nay, their own existence. Actually, despite that introduction, it was not written in modern times but in the fourteen eighties.
This though is exactly why you personally must read this book.
Who does not know the past is doomed to repeat it.
Other reviewers more eloquent than I have described the book's nature, I merely try to impress upon you it's worth. The book is, like all books, a product of it's time. Therefore we must forgive it such faults as it's appearance of misogyny. This was merely the overwhelming spirit of it's age.
In these enlightened times we must look past the surface. Instead of asking why our ancestors persecuted women, we must ask why we are still persecuting anyone?
You must read this book, and then, you must mentally replace the word 'witch' with the word 'paedophile' or 'genetic researcher'or 'terrorist' or 'vivisectionist' or any of a hundred other words.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I can't say I like a book written to cause the deaths of thousands of European pagans, mostly women, 23 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Malleus Maleficarum (Paperback)
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. It is just that the writers of the book were such monsters and the book caused so many deaths that bothers me. But I needed it for my research, so I ordered it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read and reference book, 23 July 2013
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My wife has found this a challenging but excellent book which has helped understanding of similar works on a broader front.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously quirky book, 22 Jun 2013
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This is a wonderful book full of the background and history and subsequent contradictory nature of the Church against witches. Well written albeit old fashioned in its prose style, this is a quirky and enjoyable book not just for historians but those who appreciate a good story about witches and people who are treated badly just for being a bit different.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fasinating book for serious historical interest, 23 Feb 2002
By 
S. Flijani "RedSonia" (Brighton, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. Recommended to those with an interest in either Criminal Justice history or Feminism.
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14 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Reader beware", 26 Jan 1998
By A Customer
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 of innocent people in the years following the book's publication (1485). Unfortunately the translator (Summers) seems uncritical of these atrocious slanders, which can make a woman reader feel a bit like a Jew perusing the pages of "Mein Kampf". For scholarly interest only.
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Malleus Maleficarum by James Sprenger (Paperback - 30 Jan 2010)
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