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Strange but True: A Historical Background to…

Strange but True: A Historical Background to Popular Beliefs and…

by Monica-Maria Stapelberg

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Full of interesting information on superstitions, with an extensive bibliography. But the book isn't very well organized. It would be very difficult to find any particular bit again if I wanted to re-read about it or discuss it with anyone. Nor did I see any footnote references connecting any tidbit with source material, so it left me wondering about credibility. ( )
  runeshower | Jan 17, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book got lost in my inbox, and then when I found it, I was somehow I was imagining it was a work of fiction. Instead, when I finally opened it, I found it be a well-researched book about the tokens and practices still associated with magic ritual up to the present day. The nine chapters reveal contemporary situations and relics of magic, both physical and linguistic, with interesting stories going still a little further than many popular explanations. One of the most interesting of the author's efforts is to show how widespread the roots of magical practice are, showing the links between ancient and modern and between cultures of all places and ages. I think I will find it useful as for quick look-ups when in those moments when you suddenly realize you have said something ancient and magical without really ever having thought about it before.
  souci | Aug 4, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I did not read this book through. It might be a good place to start if you want a compendium of magical thinking and practices, but it's so poorly organized and presented that it becomes merely a list that bounces back and forth through poorly specified time and place. The writer is presented as a past "lecturer in history of literature, as well as medieval languages, history, and cultural studies," but the "various universities" in her academic history are not named.

The first chapter promises a lot but sets the stage for the sweeping generalizations to follow: "Magic, as a protective and procuring agent, has existed universally in all cultures since ancient times." And almost immediately the caroming begins. In a reasonably useful discussion of sympathetic magic, we're swept in the space of a page through examples from 21st century Peru to England in an unspecified past tense, but "especially popular in Scarborough," to 17th-century Ireland. Only the Scarborough example is footnoted, and it's a two-step process to identify a source in the bibliography.

I read the three chapters that interested me most and picked up a few bits of information, but I'll need to find alternate sources if I plan to use them in any way. ( )
  bkswrites | Mar 21, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was really excited to be told I had won this book as part of early reviewers. Hopefully it arrives soon and I can write a real review. However it has been three months, and I am trying to remain patient. Perhaps I should speak with the guys int he mail room and make sure nobody else is stealing my books!
  harleth | Feb 23, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book had the potential to be very interesting. Stories of how beliefs and traditions came to be are often quite enjoyable. This book however was severely lacking. It was monotonous and boring and not something I would recommend. ( )
  chris227 | Feb 16, 2015 |
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