This 1980 book examines witchcraft beliefs and experiences in the Bocage, a rural area of western France. It also introduced a powerful theoretical attitude towards the progress of the ethnographer's enquiries, suggesting that a full knowledge of witchcraft involves being 'caught up' in it oneself. In the Bocage, being bewitched is to be 'caught' in a sequence of misfortunes. According to those who are bewitched, the culprit is someone in the neighbourhood: the witch, who can cast a spell with a word, a touch or a look, and whose 'power' comes from a book of spells inherited from an ancestor. Only a professional magician, an 'unwitcher', has any chance of breaking the succession of misfortunes which befall those who have been bewitched. He undertakes a battle of magic with the suspected witch, a battle which is eventually fatal.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press