By Walter Scott
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year:2011
Online Publication Date:August 2011
Original Publication Year:1830
Subjects: Religion: general interest , Social and cultural anthropology
Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) is best known for his poetry and for historical novels such as Ivanhoe and Rob Roy, but he also had a lifelong fascination with witchcraft and the occult. Following a spell of ill-health, Scott was encouraged by his son-in-law, publisher J. G. Lockhart, to put together a volume examining the causes of paranormal phenomena. This collection of letters, first published in 1830, is notable for both its scope (examining social, cultural, medical and psychological factors in peoples' paranormal experiences) and its clear, rational standpoint. Scott explores the influence of Christianity on evolving views of what is classified as 'witchcraft' or 'evil', and he explains the many (often innocuous) meanings of the word 'witch'. Written with palpable enthusiasm and from a strikingly modern perspective, this volume explores a range of topics including fairies, elves and fortune-telling as well as inquisitions and witch trials.
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