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Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe
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Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  44 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
This major work offers a new interpretation of the witchcraft beliefs of European intellectuals between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, showing how these beliefs fitted rationally with other beliefs of the period and how far the nature of rationality is dependent on its historical context.
Paperback, 848 pages
Published November 25th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1997)
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(showing 1-30)
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Michael
Apr 14, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historians, Students, Witches
Stuart Clark has attempted to re-think the great European witch-hunt in terms of the cultural turn, and has added a great deal to our understand thereof. He points out that previous approaches have analyzed this event wholly in terms of the "irrationality" of the participants, and have ignored the fact that, within their own premises of reality, they were acting in a completely rational manner. As such, his effort is to examine the ways in which a demonological world-view informed and determined ...more
Lauren Albert
This is a difficult but rewarding book to read. I can’t say I understood everything but I did learn many new ways to think about the period. Clark presents not simply ideas about witchcraft and demons but the whole worldview in which these ideas lived. Like an anthropologist, he wants to examine these issues as seen through early modern eyes, not ours.

“Mature and systematic witchcraft theory was possible because these ways of refl ecting about science, history, religion, and politics (and, no do
...more
Bryn Hammond
Apr 21, 2016 Bryn Hammond rated it it was amazing
Massive. Not even as hard to read -- as plagued with abstractions -- as I'd thought. Study of the intellectual world of demonology, the mental constructs, and how language was a trap, or built a trap almost impossible for those of the time to escape from (beware: we do the same and are not conscious of it). Good for any early modern persons, for instance those into the written arts, plays and what-not.
AskHistorians
This is one of two mandatory books on Early Modern Witchcraft (the other is Keith Thomas' Religion and the Decline of Magic). It's hard to summarize what is a monumental piece of work, but examines the idea of witches and how that idea functions through different intellectual sections of life. It has a bibliography that will make you weep with inadequacy and throw your work into the nearest witch-bonfire.
Michael
Mar 12, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
I read this monster of a book at university. It was an eye-opener for me, personally. What I found most interesting is how Clark explained the system of dualities upon which medieval conceptions of witchcraft were based. Complex, enthralling but always rendered interesting by the author's erudite yet succint manner of explaining himself
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