Top positive review
12 people found this helpful
A entertaining, thought provoking historical novel.
on 6 December 2000
I read this a couple of years ago........ This book is written in Huxley's usual learned style. I would find it difficult to classify it solely as a novel or an historic piece of non-fiction. It's main subject is that of a supposed mass possession of a town in France and the subsequent burning of it's promiscuous clergyman. However, Huxley deals with all facets of this: Life in France at the time of Cardinal Richelieu, especially pertaining to the persecution of Hugenots; Mass possession and hysteria; Concepts of the Holy Trinity; Religious experiences; as well as insights into other aspects of life at the time. It is not an easy read, sometimes with chapter long (though very interesting) digressions, but this is something expected from a man like Huxley. Not all the passages of Latin and French are translated, so if you are not a francophone or classicist, this may frustrate you. With numerous references to works dating back a few hundred years, it is well-researched and the citations provide a bibliography of interesting texts. I recommend this book to anyone interested in some of the topics mentioned above, or anyone (like me), who cannot get enough of Huxley's inimitable style. By the way, there is a film based on this book, called The Devils, which, whilst not being a definite classic, is also worth a watch. (Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave star.)