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Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany
"Lyndal Roper's Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany isn't the first such book to explore this new front of witch hunt scholarship, although it is one of the most recent. But it is representative, and as such it doesn't offer a version of history that features a big, clear, satisfying story with an obvious villain. Like other studies...it is crammed with little stories: squabbles among neighbors, resentments within families, disagreeable local characters, the machinations of small-time politicians and the creepy psychosexual fixations of magistrates and clerics." Laura Miller, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
From the gruesome ogress in Hansel and Gretel to the hags at the sabbath in Faust, the witch has been a powerful figure of the Western imagination. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries thousands of women confessed to being witches—of making pacts with the Devil, causing babies to sicken, and killing animals and crops—and were put to death. This book is a gripping account of the pursuit, interrogation, torture, and burning of witches during this period and beyond.
Drawing on hundreds of original trial transcripts and other rare sources in four areas of Southern Germany, where most of the witches were executed, Lyndal Roper paints a vivid picture of their lives, families, and tribulations. She also explores the psychology of witch-hunting, explaining why it was mostly older women that were the victims of witch crazes, why they confessed to crimes, and how the depiction of witches in art and literature has influenced the characterization of elderly women in our own culture.
"This is a major work that pushes the history of witchcraft in new directions and offers remarkable and sometimes startling new insights. Lyndal Roper breaks new ground in her remarkable, subtle analysis of the interpersonal relations among those caught up in fantasies of witchcraft." H. C. Erik Midelfort, author of A History of Madness in Sixteenth-Century Germany
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thousands of women confessed to being witches and were put to death. This book is a gripping account of the pursuit, interrogation, torture, and burning of witches, particularly in Germany, as well as a deeper exploration of the psychology of witch-hunting in modern culture.
"[A] brilliant piece of investigative history."—The Guardian
"This ambitious and subtle book is testament not only to Roper's skill in excavating stories from the German archives, but also to her imagination and determination in reading between the lines of examinations and confessions. . . . Compelling, courageous and inspirational."—Malcolm Gaskill, Journal of the Historical Association
About the Author
Lyndal Roper is professor of history at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Balliol College.
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