Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Enlightenment  book cover
1st Edition

Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Enlightenment

Edited By

Michael R. Lynn

ISBN 9780367502768
Published March 18, 2022 by Routledge
214 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Enlightenment argues for the centrality of magical practices and ideas throughout the long eighteenth century.

Although the hunt for witches in Europe declined precipitously after 1650, and the intellectual justification for natural magic came under fire by 1700, belief in magic among the general population did not come to a sudden stop. The philosophes continued to take aim at magical practices, alongside religion, as examples of superstitions that an enlightened age needed to put behind them. In addition to a continuity of beliefs and practices, the eighteenth century also saw improvement and innovation in magical ideas, the understanding of ghosts, and attitudes toward witchcraft. The volume takes a broad geographical approach and includes essays focusing on Great Britain (England and Ireland), France, Germany, and Hungary. It also takes a wide approach to the subject and includes essays on astrology, alchemy, witchcraft, cunning folk, ghosts, treasure hunters, and purveyors of magic.

With a broad chronological scope that ranges from the end of the seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century, this volume is useful for undergraduates, postgraduates, scholars, and those with a general interest in magic, witchcraft, and spirits in the Enlightenment.

Table of Contents

Introduction: magic, witchcraft, and ghosts in the age of reason

Michael R. Lynn

1. The ghost of the Enlightenment: communication with the dead in Southwestern Germany, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

Johannes Dillinger

2. Invisible worlds: magic, spirits, and experience in the early Enlightenment

Tricia R. Peone

3. Priests in the storm: an approach on changes in ritual attitudes in eighteenth-century Hungary

Dániel Bárth

4. East Anglian folk magic, folklore, and witchery in the age of reason

Pádraig Lawlor

5. Jean-Baptiste Alliette and the Ecole de Magie in late-eighteenth century Paris

Michael R. Lynn

6. Fortune telling, culture, law, and gender in Ireland, c.1691–1840

Andrew Sneddon

7. A scientist at astrology’s funeral: Richard Saunder and the Apollo Anglicanus

William E. Burns

8. Natural magic, hermeticism, and skepticism: orientalizing chemical curiosity in eighteenth-century France

Stéphane Van Damme

9. Afterword

Jonathan Barry

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Michael R. Lynn is Professor of History at Purdue University Northwest. He has published Popular Science and Public Opinion in Eighteenth-Century France (2006), The Sublime Invention: Ballooning in Europe, 17831820 (2010), and "The Curious Science: Chiromancy in Early Modern France" (2018). He is currently working on a monograph analyzing the culture and practice of divination in Enlightenment France.


‘The shadow side of the Enlightenment is illuminated in this fascinating collection of studies on the survival of magical beliefs and practices into the 18th C., from German ghosts, Hungarian exorcisms, and Irish fortune tellers to natural magic, astrology and a proposed Ecole de magie for Paris in the age of Voltaire.’

Mary O'Neil, University of Washington, US