Ancient Greece and Rome
$24.95 Paper, 408 pages
The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
$24.95 Paper, 376 pages
The Twentieth Century
$24.95 Paper, 256 pages
Edited by Bengt Ankarloo and
For two millennia, European folklore and ritual have been imbued with the belief in the supernatural. Take the story of an elderly woman who, when stopped by customs officials outside of Naples in 1921, was found to be carrying the head of a goat with 42 nails driven into it and was not allowed to leave until the head was destroyed by a priest.
Now, a new series from the University of Pennsylvania Press offers a comprehensive scholarly history of European witchcraft and magic that offers a treasure trove of historical analysis and narrative, including stories like that of the woman with the goat head.
The first three volumes will be released this month, with three more volumes, Biblical and Pagan Societies, The Middle Ages, and The Period of the Witch Trials, scheduled for publication in fall 2000. Taken together, the volumes will examine the history of the supernatural in Europe from its roots in ancient Near Eastern cultures and the continents Celtic, Nordic and Germanic traditions to modern-day accounts.
A recent New Yorker feature on the series recommended the books to nonacademics, saying that although the volumes are intended mainly for scholars, there is much in them to interest the common reader.
They include translations of primary documents and obscure news accounts that demonstrate the centuries-long impact of the supernatural in European society.
Library Journal has called this survey of the magical beliefs of Europeans, an exceptional historical and social analysis of a subject of enduring interest.
Due to the success of the series, the University of Pennsylvania Press has commissioned a similar investigation of witchcraft and magic in the Americas.
Originally published on November 11, 1999