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    The Possession at Loudun (Paperback) By (author) Michel de Certeau, Foreword by Stephen Greenblatt, Translated by Michael B. Smith

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    DescriptionIt is August 18, 1634. Father Urbain Grandier, convicted of sorcery that led to the demonic possession of the Ursuline nuns of provincial Loudun in France, confesses his sins on the porch of the church of Saint-Pierre, then perishes in flames lit by his own exorcists. A dramatic tale that has inspired many artistic retellings, including a novel by Aldous Huxley and in incendiary film by Ken Russell, the story of the possession at Loudun here receives a compelling analysis from the renowned Jesuit historian Michel de Certeau. Interweaving substantial excerpts from primary historical documents with fascinating commentary, de Certeau shows how the plague of sorceries and possessions in France that climaxed in the events at Loudun both revealed the deepest fears of a society in traumatic flux and accelerated its transformation. In this tour de force of psychological history, de Certeau brings to vivid life a people torn between the decline of centralized religious authority and the rise of science and reason, wracked by violent anxiety over what or whom to believe.

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    The Possession at Loudun
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Michel de Certeau, Foreword by Stephen Greenblatt, Translated by Michael B. Smith
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 264
    Width: 148 mm
    Height: 226 mm
    Thickness: 20 mm
    Weight: 399 g
    ISBN 13: 9780226100357
    ISBN 10: 0226100359

    Warengruppen-Systematik des deutschen Buchhandels: 25500
    B&T Book Type: NF
    BIC subject category V2: HBLH
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: T5.2
    BIC time period qualifier V2: 3JD
    BIC subject category V2: HBTB
    BIC E4L: HIS
    BIC subject category V2: HBJD
    B&T General Subject: 690
    B&T Modifier: Region of Publication: 01
    BIC subject category V2: HRQX9
    B&T Modifier: Academic Level: 01
    B&T Modifier: Subject Development: 01
    B&T Modifier: Geographic Designator: 05
    Libri: I-HP
    Ingram Subject Code: HP
    BISAC V2.8: HIS013000
    BISAC Merchandising Theme: ET050
    Ingram Theme: CULT/FRANCE
    BISAC V2.8: REL020000
    B&T Modifier: Subject Development: 35
    B&T Merchandise Category: UP
    B&T Modifier: Geographic Designator: 17
    LC subject heading:
    B&T Approval Code: A33742000
    DC22: 133.42609446
    DC21: 133.426094463
    BIC subject category V2: 3JD
    DC22: 133.4/26/094463
    LC classification: BF1517.F5 C4713 2000
    LC subject heading: , , ,
    Thema V1.0: NHD, QRYM
    Edition statement
    Illustrations note
    28 halftones, 5 maps, 1 table
    The University of Chicago Press
    Imprint name
    University of Chicago Press
    Publication date
    02 August 2000
    Publication City/Country
    Chicago, IL
    Author Information
    At the time of his death in 1986, Michel de Certeau was a director of studies at the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, Paris. Of his many books, "The Practice of Everyday Life, The Writing of History, " and" Heterologies: Discourse on the Other" are available in English translation.
    Review text
    A scholarly work for hardy souls who enjoy reading about tortured ones. In France, ever since Sartre, heavyweight intellectuals have gained fame by writing inscrutable prose. De Certeaus study, originally published in France in 1970, is exemplary in that regard, and Americans (the heirs of Twain and Hemingway) will find it hard going. De Certeau, the late, distinguished Jesuit scholar, was the right historian to try to bring fresh perspectives to the events of demonic possession, exorcism, and religious belief that convulsed a community in western France in the 1630s. It is a story that might appeal to fans of Stephen King if only they had the patience to wade through this version of it. For it is a fantastic tale of religion gone mad, cruel torment, grand hypocrisy, clever play-acting, and great courage in a time gone by. The genuine strangeness of the devils supposed possession of some nuns (through the vehicle of a parish priest) remains gripping and cant fail to move even the most agnostic modern audienceexcept in this tortured text, an artifact of literary new historicism. De Certeau provides ample selections from contemporary documents, each foreign and curious to modern eyes. He also emphasizes the dramaturgic qualities of the cruel medical and psychological examinations of the possessed, the stout faith of the condemned priest, and the lively public debates that surrounded his trial. But do readers have to be tried, too? Translator Smith must have been sorely taxed to render the original into some semblance of clear English. As if acknowledging his difficulty, he leaves some passages in the original Latin and Frenchfine for specialist scholars and graduate students but not so for normal souls looking for greater insight into an infamous series of events. The best rendering of Satans forays into old Catholic France remains Aldous Huxleys still vital Devils of Loudun. Go there first. (32 illustrations, not seen) (Kirkus Reviews)