Monday, June 04, 2012

Ten notable books on witch persecutions

James Morrow is the Nebula award-winning author of stories and novels, including The Last Witchfinder and The Philosopher’s Apprentice.

In 2006 he named a top ten list of books on witch persecutions for the Guardian. One title on the list:
A Delusion of Satan by Frances Hill (1995)

At least once a decade we seem to get a new theory of the Salem witch trials. Interpretations have thus far embraced the sociological (it was all about antagonistic neighbours settling scores with each other), the psychological (the putatively possessed children were seeking attention), the political (Reverend Parris encouraged the proceedings to consolidate his power), the anthropological (the villagers were projecting their fears of Indians onto each other), and even the pharmacological (the hysterical girls had eaten bread contaminated with ergot). Francis Hill, a London-based journalist, returns us to the heart of the problem: the psychotic theologies and Manichean madness that contaminated Christianity for nearly 300 years. The author is refreshingly unimpressed by Judge Samuel Sewall's famous apology for his role in the Salem murders. As Hill sardonically paraphrases his mea culpa, "Innocent people may have died and guilty ones escaped; the whole thing was deeply regrettable; everyone meant well; no one was to blame."
Read about another book on Morrow's list.

Visit James Morrow's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Philosopher’s Apprentice.

--Marshal Zeringue