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The Book of Werewolves by Sabine…
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The Book of Werewolves (1865)

by Sabine Baring-Gould

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423738,836 (3.45)13
The Book of Were-Wolves By Sabine Baring-Gould was originally published in 1865 and remains the most important and most often cited book on Lycanthropy. It is as compelling today as it was more than one hundred years ago when it was first published.

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» See also 13 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Overall a rather interesting book, and obviously a must-read if you're wanting to explore werewolf literature.
What marked it down for me was that some passages were all too brief, whereas in other cases the book digressed away from the main theme too much, or for too long. ( )
  AngelaJMaher | Jun 16, 2018 |
"Startling though the assertion may be, it is a matter of fact, that man, naturally, in common with other carnivora, is actuated by an impulse to kill, and by a love of destroying life."

With limited commentary by its author, The Book of Werewolves has the most value when viewed as a compilation of werewolf history based on oral testimonies from the Ancients to the late-19th century. Sometimes those stories were obtained from documents like court transcripts; other times the stories were told directly to the author.

Despite the antiquated statements and supporting "evidence," there's enough information to hold the attention of a curious reader or researcher. Were it not for the repeated references to the "savage" and "its uncultivated mind" and the author's obvious bigotry, this book might've earned higher placement on my folklore shelf.

Recommend A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture edited by Charlotte F. Otten as a companion (or replacement) read for The Book of Werewolves.

2.5 stars

"First published in 1865, Sabine Baring-Gould's classic study of werewolves is a revelation on the subject, being written at a time when werewolves were still taken very seriously in the wilder corners of Europe and, indeed, most other parts of the world. Since then, werewolves have retreated into fiction and famously into films where, along with vampires, they have become purveyors of macabre entertainment. But what this book demonstrates is that the werewolf was once the object of very real terror. And with good reason." -From the Introduction by Nigel Suckling ( )
1 vote flying_monkeys | Mar 3, 2017 |
Remarkably for an Anglican priest, Baring Gould (unlike Montague Summers) sees lycanthropy as a psychological disorder, not work of the devil. An excellent overview of cases of lycanthropy. ( )
1 vote Georges_T._Dodds | Mar 30, 2013 |
This author has really done the research. This is a fascinating book on the origins of the werewolf myths and links them to vampires and ghouls. There are interesting and obscure references to the beginning of the beliefs and many enthralling accounts of actual events and cases where the perpetrators were brought to trial. It is much more than a 'Book of Werewolves' - more like a historical reference to everything that chills the blood. ( )
  Heptonj | May 4, 2011 |
A detailed examination of the werewolf myth, first published in 1865.

This was quite an enjoyable book. Baring-Gould adopts a pleasing style, and he's structured his arguments well. He presents a wide variety of werewolf myths, then puts them in context with some discussion of their cultural and psychological antecedents. He's also devoted a great deal of time to historical and judicial records that describe individuals who may or may not have believed themselves to be werewolves or who exhibited werewolf-like behavior. The result is a readable, anthropological take on the mythos that sometimes covers surprising ground.

The book isn't without fault, though. Since Baring-Gould was writing in the 1860's, his scholarship is somewhat dated. There's a lot of ethnocentrism amd Eurocentrism, (though he does deal with some Eastern myths and one North American tale), and he seems to take the idea of primitivism for granted when he speaks of other cultures. As a previous reviewer has mentioned, he also neglects to translate many of his quotations from their original languages. This might not be a problem for the average 19th century parson, but I doubt many modern readers will have as little trouble.

Overall, though, this is certainly worth checking out if you have any interest in werewolves in particular or folklore in general. ( )
4 vote xicanti | Jan 29, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sabine Baring-Gouldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Suckling, NigelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I shall never forget the walk I took one night in Vienne, after having accomplished the examination of an unknown Druidical relic, the Pierre labie, at La Rondelle, near Champigni. I had learned of the existence of this cromlech only on my arrival at Champigni in the afternoon, and I had started to visit the curiosity without calculating the time it would take me to reach it and to return. Suffice it to say that I discovered the venerable pile of grey stones as the sun set, and that I expended the last lights of evening in planning and sketching. I then turned my face homeward. My walk of about ten miles had wearied me, coming at the end of a long day's posting, and I had lamed myself in scrambling over some stones to the Gaulish relic.
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This work is one of the finest ever penned on the subject of lycanthropy and werewolf lore. Written in the mid 1800s by the rather eccentric Sabine Baring-Gould, it covers more than 1,000 years of lore from a half dozen paths- the berserker of Norse lore, French mythology, and then-modern anecdotes of cannibalism and madness. Not relegating the werewolf just to a secular and skeptical study, nor simply to spiritual banter, Baring-Gould manages to compress an enormous span of historical material into his work; a work which is no doubt of value to the academic and those involved with the occult at the same time.
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