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The Book of Werewolves: Being an Account of…

The Book of Werewolves: Being an Account of a Terrible Superstition (original 1865; edition 2016)

by Sabine Baring-Gould (Author)

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465940,511 (3.39)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.
Title:The Book of Werewolves: Being an Account of a Terrible Superstition
Authors:Sabine Baring-Gould (Author)
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2016), 174 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Book of Werewolves by S. Baring-Gould (1865)


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This book provided me with horrific entertainment for many a night. I first came across this book about 5 years ago, but I did not read further than the author's preface back then, thinking it to be some medieval superstitious author's work. But this time, when I gave it a go, I was surprised that the author, despite being a churchman was a most rational and scientific-minded person (I am ashamed to admit that this was a discovery to me, that churchmen aren't superstitious bumpkins as a rule, but now I know better). This was a most informative work, and a pleasure to read. The medieval illustrations reproduced herein really helped make the "atmosphere". And this is not just folklore and myth, but the author of this work expends no small amount of efforts to bring to light the psychological conditions behind the were-wolf, that might have lead to the origin and sustenance of the myth.
  Sebuktegin | May 25, 2021 |
This was quite a trip. Winding and occasionally racist, and it likely didn't help that the free edition I downloaded from the B&N nook store was poorly formatted. 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 is only tangentially about werewolves. I wouldn't have gotten all the way through it if I didn't need to for grad school. ( )
  whatsmacksaid | Jan 25, 2021 |
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 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
S. 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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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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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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