The Book Of Were-Wolves


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by SABINE BARING-GOULD

I'd love to get to know someone who thinks that the Earth is a hollow shell with spaceships inside. Or someone who believes that there are aliens living in our bodies, causing us pain that can be extracted with an electronic device. Or someone who claims to have exorcised thousands of demons and keeps a posses I don't really have much of an interest in the supernatural. Or someone who claims to have exorcised thousands of demons and keeps a possessed doll in his living room and writes terrible books about it all.

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So I started reading this as a piece of curio. I thought that Baring-Gould actually believed in werewolves, and for awhile it really seemed that he did. Alas, he doesn't really.

He pulled a fast one on me. Baring-Gould is a rationalist, one of the ultra-serious, ultra-scientific men of curiosity. His goal here is to examine all of the appearances of the werewolf in literature and recorded culture and provide a rational explanation. His thesis is that, like all myths, the werewolf is the imaginative explanation for natural phenomena.

When our unenlightened, unintelligent forefathers he doesn't actually use phrases like that, but it's very much implied saw certain heinous crimes, the only explanation they could come up with is that they were committed by animal-like men. He makes a good analogy. When we say that we hear thunder rolling, we mean it figuratively. We mean only that the sound of thunder is somewhat like the sound of something rolling. Honestly, I'm not sure I hear the resemblance, but the point is, it's figurative language.


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Our pagan ancestors meant it literally. When they heard thunder, they knew it was because the chariot of the gods was rolling by in the sky above. Werewolves are a similar phenomenon. When we hear of a hideous murder, especially one involving something so horrid as cannibalism, we may liken the murderer to a wolf.

Our predecessors, however, lacking psychological or any other explanation for such an atrocity, may theorize the literal transformation of the murderer from human to wolf. His research is quite impressive. The first half of the book is an exhaustive record of werewolf myths throughout the world. It's also the most interesting part of the book.

He traces them through ancient Indian, Nordic, Greek, and medieval European cultures. And he did so in , twenty-five years before James Frazer's The Golden Bough , from which he certainly could have gleaned all of his information if it had existed. The first two-thirds of the book is fairly riveting.

However, in the final part, he investigates contemporary murders and explains how they could be interpreted as the crimes of a werewolf. He gets bogged down in specifics and it becomes a tedious affair. I'd recommend a perusal of the early parts of this book simply for its curiousness. I've never read anything quite like it. Apr 26, F.

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The Book of Were-Wolves by S. Baring-Gould - Free Ebook

Not so frustrating as to make me tear off my clothes and howl wildly at the moon, but frustrating nonetheless. Sabine Baring-Gould relates various werewolf tales from myth and legend, and then fits into a 19th century idea of mental illness. No matter who the writer, werewolf tale next to werewolf tale next to werewolf tale is going to become wearing, and Baring-Gould — even in one volume — proves himself to be a distinctly variable writer.

When he gets her teeth into a tale he really can make it scary and dramatic and truly gripping, Unfortunately, he only manages to land his teeth on a few stories here and the rest are averagely and even flatly told — or quoted at length from other sources — and so the whole becomes a disjointed mess. There is some interesting stuff here, but this is frequently not a particularly interesting book. Also historical documentation of medieval serial killers who were alleged to be werewolves is recounted, as well as Baring-Goulds own encounters with local werewolf legends that had people in fear to go in the woods alone in various locales in France that he visited.

Regardless this book still remains a timeless classic work. Encontramos desde personas que desmiembran, coleccionan seres humanos. Oct 09, Vin rated it it was ok Recommends it for: The main problem with this book is that is horribly misnamed. It should be called "The Book of Cannibals".

THE BOOK OF WERE-WOLVES

I was looking for some werewolf mythology maybe some background and origins and instead I get this detailed account of historical cannibals. In the beginning there are a few instances where the cannibal in question believed or was believed to be a werewolf or at the very least, a shapeshiter of some sort. But by the end of the book there is three chapters in one man who liked to chop up lit The main problem with this book is that is horribly misnamed.

But by the end of the book there is three chapters in one man who liked to chop up little children because he read somewhere that certain Roman Caesars use to engage in the activity.


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What does that have to do with werewolves? The author believes that lycanthropy, as a sickness of the mind, is real. That some people are deluded enough to believe they are werewolves. He also believes that folklore has been exaggerated or misinterpreted.

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I can accept that point of view. But this book is about cannibals. Some of those cannibals believed to be werewolves, others had no association to the word whatsoever. Europeans who believed they could shape-shift, generally ate children when in proper form, and were often hanged and burned when found out. After much trouble the maniac was caught, and he then assured his captors that the only difference which existed between himself and a natural wolf, was that in a true wolf the hair grew outward, whilst Europeans who believed they could shape-shift, generally ate children when in proper form, and were often hanged and burned when found out.

After much trouble the maniac was caught, and he then assured his captors that the only difference which existed between himself and a natural wolf, was that in a true wolf the hair grew outward, whilst in him it struck inward. In order to put this assertion to the proof, the magistrates, themselves most certainly cruel and bloodthirsty wolves, cut off his arms and legs; the poor wretch died of the mutilation.

This took place in The idea of the skin being reversed is a very ancient one: Feb 24, Suvi rated it liked it Shelves: The structure and topics are uneven, which makes the title a bit misleading. First the author lists different mythologies and folklore the most interesting part , but then he somehow connects Gilles de Rais to the werewolf myth without ever explaining why he chose this particular historical figure.

There's very little of the author's original thoughts or arguments among the recounts of folklore and criminal cases. As interesting and disgusting as these cases of cannibalism and corpse mutilato The structure and topics are uneven, which makes the title a bit misleading. As interesting and disgusting as these cases of cannibalism and corpse mutilators are, some of them are quite a stretch to be linked to the werewolf myth.

However, as a reference book this is quite useful and a must read for everyone interested in werewolves. Apr 09, S. This was quite a trip. It's interesting, and I appreciated several key things about it--its age, its statements as to what educated people believed at the time of the writing, the fact that most original texts were presented alongside their translations. It might be short, but it's a slog and it's not for the faint of heart. The last quarter of the book This was quite a trip. The last quarter of the book is only tangentially about werewolves. I wouldn't have gotten all the way through it if I didn't need to for grad school.

Apr 26, David Fuller rated it it was amazing Shelves: Sabine Baring-Gould is by no means a celebrity today, but in the 19th century he brought a modern sensibility to an ancient body of superstitions: I first came across his name thanks to A Very Special Christmas , of all things. On the compilation album, among the carols recorded by the then-current crop of rock stars was "Gabriel's Message," by Sting. The liner notes credited S. Baring-Gould as the composer. Born in , the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould was a prolific writer, compo Sabine Baring-Gould is by no means a celebrity today, but in the 19th century he brought a modern sensibility to an ancient body of superstitions: Sabine Baring-Gould was a prolific writer, composer and collector of folklore.

Among his scores of published works are a multi-volume Lives of the Saints , hymns including "Onward, Christian Soldiers," and The Book of Were-Wolves , a classic survey of werewolf folklore first published in For fans of gothic literature, the first chapter alone makes the book worth picking up. As the introduction in the edition I have puts it, Baring-Gould's account of his stumbling across pervasive belief in werewolves while on holiday in France is worthy of a Victorian novel. After a day visiting the site of supposed druidic stones near Champigni, Baring-Gould notes the light was fading.

Resigning himself to walking back to Champigni, he was surprised at the reaction of the local priest and the hamlet's mayor. Baring-Gould shrugs it off and says he will go alone. It's a refreshingly firsthand account of belief in werewolves, but the rest of the book is fascinating as well.

As a collection of European and some world folklore on werewolves, it's impressive; it's made all the more so by the clear-headed presentation of many aspects of lycanthropy. He delves into its etymologically Greek origins with the tale of Lycaon, but also explores Scandinavian and French traditions. It helps if the reader is as conversant in multiple languages as the author. Baring-Gould often leaves block quotes from his sources in their original Greek and Latin, though he's kind enough to translate the Old Norse passages.

The book is more than an assorted collection of superstition. Significantly, he looks at documented cases of lycanthropy through the centuries and after cataloguing a few notable, he later examines them as representing a serious, verifiable mental illness. Another effect his presentation has, to a modern reader, is an overview of werewolf lore uncluttered by Hollywood notions of full moons, silver bullets, and many of all the tropes we now take for granted.

His examples and sources are much closer to "real" werewolves than most of what is embedded in pop culture today, and it's both refreshing and sobering. For the serious devourer of lycanthropic lore, it's a fascinating and provoking read. Originally posted on As You Were, June 6, http: While many of the others cover esoteric topics of local folklore and Church history, it is no surprise that this one still attracts modern readers.

It is one of the first and still one of the best books on the topic, and is such a standard reference that many later books on werewolves and lycanthropy owe a great deal to his work. Baring-Gould attempts at least three tasks: He includes stories of physical transformations alongside stories of metempsychosis the transmigration of the soul into another body as well as legends where the transformation is only illusory. Baring-Gould gives particular attention to the Scandinavian sagas and mythology, devoting two whole chapters on them. I found a lot of interesting stuff there.

The next third of the book, covering the middle ages and more modern times, focuses on the details of how one becomes a werewolf, how they can be identified, and how the affliction might be cured. This book is also thought to be the first to articulate the idea that werewolf legends arose from incidents of serial murders. Maybe the fact that he was an Anglican priest led him to the view that all people are equally capable of sin and evil? Baring-Gould gives what he says is the first English account of the horrible crimes of Gilles of de Rais, expurgated of the most heinous details.

Feb 13, Octavia Cade rated it really liked it Shelves: First published in , this really interesting study on the werewolf is notable for what it doesn't show. Ask a random person on the street today what they know about werewolves, and the answer will generally involve silver bullets and a full moon, but the mythos of earlier centuries is very different indeed.

Baring-Gould's assessment of the phenomenon comes from a place of rationalism - it is clear he ascribes symptoms of lycanthropy to mental illness rather than supernatural effect. However First published in , this really interesting study on the werewolf is notable for what it doesn't show.

However the folklore, legends and myths of lycanthropy - and how they appear in history in the recorded criminal trials of those affected, for example - describe populations and cultures where this rationalism was very far from a satisfactory explanation for the people involved. This is a very dry read, and you have to really want to know about werewolves to slog through it, but it is full of some very gruesome stories, indeed. Of course, "gruesome" is in the eye of the beholder.

The author wrote this at around the time of the civil war in the United States, and what was considered too horrible to be printed then would be put in children's books now. I exaggerate, but only just. I read this book for reference, and will probably refer to it as a source for werewolf and This is a very dry read, and you have to really want to know about werewolves to slog through it, but it is full of some very gruesome stories, indeed. I read this book for reference, and will probably refer to it as a source for werewolf and other were-animal stories when the fancy strikes.

If you can find an actual written copy, you'd be better off. The e-book is riddled with transcription errors that probably occurred when the original was scanned using OCR. Baring-Gould was also a bit eccentric. He reputedly taught classes with a pet bat on his shoulder. He is best known for writing the hymn 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. This book is one of the most cited references about werewolves. The Book of the Were-Wolf takes a rationalistic approach to the subject.

The Book Of Were-Wolves The Book Of Were-Wolves
The Book Of Were-Wolves The Book Of Were-Wolves
The Book Of Were-Wolves The Book Of Were-Wolves
The Book Of Were-Wolves The Book Of Were-Wolves
The Book Of Were-Wolves The Book Of Were-Wolves
The Book Of Were-Wolves The Book Of Were-Wolves
The Book Of Were-Wolves The Book Of Were-Wolves
The Book Of Were-Wolves The Book Of Were-Wolves
The Book Of Were-Wolves The Book Of Were-Wolves

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