Dfordoom's Reviews > The Book of Werewolves

The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring-Gould
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Apr 23, 08

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in December, 2007

Sabine Baring-Gould’s Book of Werewolves (which was recommended to me by several people here) was originally published in 1865. Baring-Gould treats the phenomenon of the werewolf as a psychological aberration, as essentially a delusional state. He also relates it to cannibalism, and seems to see at lest some of those so afflicted as being what we today would call serial killers. He also links it to the behaviour of the notorious Norse berserkers, who would suffer from an insane battle rage. His speculations on the origin the various names by which werewolves were known in different European languages is intriguing, especially the idea that the term may derive from a word for an outlaw, a man condemned effectively to run with the wolves. He has plenty of interesting Scandinavian folklore and legends on the subject in the book, and also a chilling account of the career and crimes of the infamous Gilles de Retz (or Gilles de Rais), the 15th century French nobleman who murdered hundreds of children. I’m not sure exactly how he saw the connection between de Retz and werewolves, but it’s interesting anyway. A fascinating little book.
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Darth Fierce Not all of it was as amazing as the rest of it but I really thought it had some interesting "facts" to know and makes you realize how anyone could be imprisoned or put to death for lycanthropy. Crazy!


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