Between the Devil and the Host: Imagining Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland - The Past & Present Book Series (Hardback)
  • Between the Devil and the Host: Imagining Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland - The Past & Present Book Series (Hardback)
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Between the Devil and the Host: Imagining Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland - The Past & Present Book Series (Hardback)

(author)
£90.00
Hardback 296 Pages / Published: 03/11/2011
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Outside the imagination, witches don't exist. But in Poland and in Europe and its colonies in the early modern period, people imagined their neighbours to be witches, with tragic results. For the first time in English, Michael Ostling tells the story of the imagined Polish witches, showing how ordinary peasant-women got caught in webs of suspicion and accusation, finally confessing under torture to the most heinous of crimes. Through a close reading of accusations and confessions, Ostling also shows how witches imagined themselves and their own religious lives. Paradoxically, the tales they tell of infanticide and host-desecration reveal to us a culture of deep Catholic piety, while the stories they tell of demonic sex and the treasure-bringing ghosts of unbaptized babies uncover a complex folklore at the margins of Christian orthodoxy. Caught between the devil and the host, the self-imagined Polish witches reflect the religion of their place and time, even as they stand accused of subverting and betraying that religion. Through the dark glass of witchcraft Ostling explores the religious lives of early modern women and men: their gender attitudes, their Christian faith and folk cosmology, their prayers and spells, their adoration of Christ incarnate in the transubstantiated Eucharist, and their relations with goblin-like house demons and ghosts.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199587902
Number of pages: 296
Weight: 594 g
Dimensions: 242 x 164 x 21 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Michael Ostling offers a fascinating contribution to the interpretation of early modern witch trials and confessions, which prove to be as historically challenging in the Polish context as elsewhere in Europe. * Larry Wolff, Times Literary Supplement *
The author's religious-cultural approach to witches counters interpretations that tend to dismiss them as products of fantasy and superstition. An appendix, maps, and a table complement this stimulating book. * L. B. Gimelli, CHOICE *
This is an invaluable addition to regional studies of witchcraft in early modern Europe, bringing important recent Polish-language research into contact with interpretations and styles of inquiry currently being developed for other parts of Europe. * Stuart Clark, Journal of Ecclesiastical History *
A splendid study. * Brian Levack, English Historical Review *
Between the Devil and the Host is an exceedingly valuable book * Magda Teter, Polin *
In [Ostling's] brilliant analysis, the Polish witchstands at the crossroads of European and Slavic worlds, of high and low culture, of church and state, of formal court procedure and informal rites of reconciliation and counter-magic, of religion and "superstition," of reality and fantasy, and of culture and the individual. * Valerie Kivelson, Slavic Review *
will be welcomed by specialists and more general readers alike as a useful and insightful contribution to early modern witchcraft studies. * Hans Peter Broedel, Church History *
an excellent monograph that faithfully reflects a regional history while offering important insights to the field as a whole ... Between the Devil and the Host is a history of witchcraft written from the intellectual perspective of religious studies, with keen attention to English historical anthropology and extensive archival scholarship. It will serve well as an assigned text in both graduate and undergraduate courses on the European witch hunts, and it should be read by scholars of witchcraft in general. * Laura Stokes, American Historical Review *
makes for fascinating reading ... His framing of the wider question of what constitutes Christianity as an approach to reading witchcraft trials turns our attention to the margin between culture and self. His multidisciplinary approach (using comparative ethnology, folklore, and anthropology of religion) seeks to prove the very piety of the Polish Catholic peasant women accused of consorting with the devil through the motifs of diabolic copulation, host desecration, and invocation. * Wanda Wyporska, Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft *

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