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Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft

3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  314 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
With An Introduction By Henry Morley LL.D. Professor of English Literature at University College London.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1830)
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Jun 29, 2012 Tucker rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
Sir Walter Scott is famous for his novels and this is evident through his engaging language. His carefully constructed sentences are clear, colorful and meaningful. This book is a skeptical rationalist take on the witch trials in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries along with some legends and anecdotes of paranormal apparitions. Scott sympathizes with the unfortunate victims who were burned as witches and he takes the time to explain why superstitions about witches arose, why these superstitio ...more
Les Wilson
Mar 08, 2017 Les Wilson rated it liked it
Perhaps worth more; but I read this book in audio format, and found the reader lacking.
Silvio Curtis
Sep 02, 2016 Silvio Curtis rated it really liked it
Written in 1830. A popular history of belief in witches and spirits accessible to human control, especially in England and Scotland. Not written to argue a point; Scott considered witchcraft and demonology to be ridiculous superstitions and takes it for granted that readers will agree. The basic narrative is that belief in witches and spirits was originally near-universal and a pretty understandable mistake among non-Judeo-Christian people but is in no way justified by the Christian Bible and su ...more
Joseph F.
May 25, 2013 Joseph F. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh boy, another book with no pic. I really read some obscure stuff.
Anywho, this classic of the field is a buried treasure. Scott shares his knowledge of this subject with many stories; well known and personal. I liked his skepticism, not only for (obviously witchcraft), but for the supernatural in general. This book is therefore still pertinent for this day, with all the supernatural beliefs that people still treasure. Of course, Scott is a Christian, and his religious beliefs are true as oppose
Shawn Fairweather
An interesting look at the European Witch Trials and persecution of the accused. Most sadly was quite dry and flowed on the perspective of recounting legend and lore. Some of Scotts recollections lacked detailed facts and felt more like a campfire time of story telling. I appreciated much of Scotts skepticism especially with what we know now, however focusing on stories of fairies was a little out there even for the time period. The organization of the book left a lot to be desired in that much ...more
Nick Tramdack
Walter Scott's "letters" on the topics of Demonology and Witchcraft didn't really draw me in. I read this book looking for picturesque details that I could use in SF/F short stories. And to be fair, I found a few

Why is the food in Faerie saltless? Because salt, a preservative, symbolizes the immortality that is denied to the fae. Cool, right?

Unfortunately, Scott does tend to go on at length with less-than-thrilling biblical analysis (the witch of Endor AGAIN?) and more-of-the-same accounts of wi
Jun 14, 2013 Sveta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many of the recalled stories are brilliant but I did a lot of skimming through Scott's rationalizations. A fair amount is Scott having a masturbatory skepticism carnival to anecdotes about seeing ghosts in configurations of curtains and feeling specters after touching yourself with a hand that's fallen asleep, but then the better stories don't have this cast of poshlost that most apparent ghost encounters do. I learned a lot more about the world Scott's dealing with from his asides about the aur ...more
Dec 01, 2015 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scott brings a keen literary eye and sophisticated understanding of the rise of rationalism to this boffo folk history of European practices of and attitudes toward the occult. Fun stuff, and way ahead of its time.
Naina Kaylina
I don't mind it, some of it is hard to understand because you have to put yourself inside the mind of someone who lived between 1771 and 1832 to understand a few things.

But his take and perception on things was interesting.
Dec 13, 2012 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written to address the errors of superstition and the infamy of the witch trials. The book shows, perhaps, the type of systemic error that can result from half-thinking an issue through using Theology without the check and balance of common sense and reason.
Lori Spier
Jun 30, 2013 Velvetink marked it as to-read
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Sir Walter Scott was born on August 15, 1771 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Scott created and popularized historical novels in a series called the Waverley Novels. In his novels Scott arranged the plots and characters so the reader enters into the lives of both great and ordinary people caught up in violent, dramatic
More about Walter Scott...

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