Document Type

Book Review

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date

Summer 2007

Journal or Book Title

Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft

Volume

2

Issue

1

First Page

106

Last Page

108

DOI

10.1353/mrw.0.0065

Abstract

In his introduction to this volume, Jonathan Roper defines charms as “the verbal element of vernacular magic practice” (p. 1). This is a concise and workable definition, and it establishes charms and charming as encompassing, almost inarguably, the most broadly diffused and commonly practiced kinds of magic in European history (only the equally enormous category of divination might give charming a run for its money). Yet as Roper and several of the authors of the articles collected here note, charms and charming have not received anywhere near the scholarly attention that have been lavished on narrower categories, such as maleficent witchcraft or learned Renaissance magic. The problem is one of sources. While learned magi left their own records, and theologians and prosecutors wrote furiously about the suspected evils of witchcraft, charms were so ubiquitous in common oral culture that they were rarely written down. When they were recorded, it was typically unsystematically, at least until the nineteenth century, when folklorists became interested in preserving what they regarded as important elements of popular culture, and of course those records, too, present certain problems as historical sources.

Comments

This is a book review from Magic, Ritual, Witchcraft 2 (2007): 106, doi:10.1353/mrw.0.0065. Posted with permission.

Rights

All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations used for purposes of scholarly citation, none of this work may be reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher. For information address the University of Pennsylvania Press, 3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112.

Copyright Owner

University of Pennsylvania Press

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf

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