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Table-Rappers: The Victorians and the Occult (original 1972; edition 2004)
Table-Rappers: The Victorians and the Occult by Ronald Pearsall (1972)
Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0750936843, Paperback)
The Victorian age was the most haunted of all. At dark seances spectators goggled at spirit hands descending form above, and fondled 'spirits' who had coyly emerged from cabinets. The age of reason had done away with the supernatural. But the Victorians wanted it back and they made certain they got it. Astrology and fortune-telling enjoyed a boom, and in country districts the witches and the cunning men plied their arts, selling and casting spells, and applying the evil eye. The Table-Rappers deals with all aspects of the Victorian occult - the credulity of believers certain that a thing of gauze and muslin was their dead aunt, the venom of the professional mediums who sabotaged each others' seances, and the still unexplained phenomena - levitations, the fire test where mediums handled red-hot coals, and strange materialisations where both spirits and mediums were in the room at the same time. Behind all the heavy breathing in darkened rooms, the implausible spirit photographs, the interminable dotty table-rapping and inconsequential scribbling on slates, lay a whole world of absurd tricksters, well-meaning dolts, credulous gulls and some unforgettable characters.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:50 -0400)
"The Victorian era was one of the most haunted in history. The attempts of science to explain away spiritualism and suppress the supernatural were in vain. The Victorians wanted their seances, ghosts, astrology and witchcraft, and there was a whole host of mediums, tricksters and clairvoyants ready to deliver." "Using a wealth of material, Ronald Pearsall uncovers dark corners in the spiritualist movement, examines the locales of hauntings, unveils the common 'tricks of the trade' and, perhaps most surprisingly, reveals the dabbling of Dickens, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and even Queen Victoria."--BOOK JACKET.
(summary from another edition)
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