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The Secret Commonwealth: An Essay of the Nature and Actions of the Subterranean (and, for the Most Part) Invisible People, Heretofore Going under the Name of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies
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The Secret Commonwealth: An Essay of the Nature and Actions of the Subterranean (and, for the Most Part) Invisible People, Heretofore Going under the Name of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  183 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Late in the seventeenth century, Robert Kirk, an Episcopalian minister in the Scottish Highlands, set out to collect his parishioners’ many striking stories about elves, fairies, fauns, doppelgangers, wraiths, and other beings of, in Kirk’s words, “a middle nature betwixt man and angel.” For Kirk these stories constituted strong evidence for the reality of a supernatural w ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published November 21st 2006 by NYRB Classics (first published 1691)
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Jason Plein
If, like me, you read this expecting to learn something about the folklore of fairies, you will be disappointed. The beginning of the book has some of that, and it is entertaining.

The best reason to read this book is that it is strange and amusing. It is written by a clergyman on fairies, the second sight, and charms; he believes in all of the above. His prose reads something like that of the scientists of his time, but he writes about what appears to us to be nonsense. He is at pains to tell us
Celestial Elf
Share the view of some other reviewers that whilst apparently rich in potential (great title), this book fell far short of expectations.
Found the 17th century grammar and vocabulary tiring, and the emphasis not so much on the Commonwealth of Elves fauns etc as upon the fears that lead people to apprehend them or the shades and ghosts that the book alleges them to be, to be somewhat a misrepresentation of the work in its title as well as a partisan redirection of one supernatural circumstance fo
Jun 16, 2007 Joanna rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: very few people
So very boring. The subject matter - the curious nature of Scottish faeries and the faery faith of those that fear them - held tremendous potential, but this book fell far short of my expectations. It was dull and difficult reading, thanks to the 17th century grammar and vocabulary, and scattered with irrelevant Biblical quotes. If you want to learn about the faery faith, I would recommend Evan-Wentz's "The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries" over this one any day of the week. 'Tis a shame.

" Women are yet alive who tell they were taken away when in Child-bed to nurƒe Fairie Children, a lingering voracious Image of their (them?) being left in their place, (like their Reflexion in a Mirrour,) which (as if it were ƒome inƒatiable Spirit in ane aƒƒumed Bodie) made firƒt ƒemblance to devour the Meats that it cunningly carried by, and then left the Carcaƒe as if it expired and departed thence by a naturall and common Death"

Hmmm...sounds like an old explanation for postpartum
This book is a primary source from the 17th century, and it reads like one. The author, Robert Kirk, was a Scottish minister who scoured the Highlands for stories of fairies and other Otherworldly creatures. The tract was never edited. It's difficult to make sense of Kirk's commentary without a deep knowledge of Scripture and a facility for early modern English. The version I read featured an introduction by Andrew Lang; I'd like to see a modern scholarly commentary to help us 21st century folks ...more
Tod Jones
Strange and fascinating!
Iain Macleod
Reading for research purposes and enjoying thoroughly. Hoping to find out more about the author Robert Kirk and his beliefs in an otherworld, especially in the strictly religious Highland community he grew up in the 17th century. And as for the way he died and what happened after? Weirdsville!
Andrew Hennessey
every ufologist should read it .. the clear link between faeries of old and the greys of today - same drink through the pores stuff etc
this book totally blows away exopolitics 'they came in 1947 at Roswell' rubbish
Interesting but not very anecdotal, so not very exciting. It also has a very pseudo-scientific, meandering quality to it that is rather disappointing if you are looking for stories about faeries.
Wasn't too impressed with this book, I have read all of this before, so nothing to compare, very dull and boring. I wish I could give it a half star.
The story surroung Kirk's death is just as interesting as the folklore he gathered.
Sep 06, 2011 Amy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies by Robert Kirk (2008)
Completely fascinating, an amazing source for fairylore studies.
Catherine Johnson
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Robert Kirk: Walker Between the Worlds

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