Art of the Grimoire: An Illustrated History of Magic Books and Spells (Hardcover)
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A copiously illustrated global history of magic books, from ancient papyri to pulp paperbacks
Grimoires, textbooks of magic and occult knowledge, have existed through the ages alongside other magic and religious texts in part because of the need to create a physical record of magical phenomena, but also to enact magic through spells and rituals. To understand the history of these texts is to understand the influence of the major religions, the development of early science, the cultural influence of print, the growth of literacy, the social impact of colonialism, and the expansion of esoteric cultures across the oceans.
In more than two hundred color illustrations from ancient times to the present, renowned scholar Owen Davies examines little-studied artistic qualities of grimoires, revealing a unique world of design and imagination. The book takes a global approach, considering Egyptian and Greek papyri, ancient Chinese bamboo scripts, South American pulp prints, and Japanese demon encyclopedias, among other examples.
This book will enchant readers interested in the history of magic and science, as well as in book and manuscript history.
About the Author
Owen Davies is professor of social history at the University of Hertfordshire and president of the Folklore Society. He is the author of numerous books on the history of witchcraft, magic, ghosts, and popular medicine.
“A richly illustrated study that ranges from ancient Greek and Egyptian papyri to Japanese encyclopaedias of demons.”—Apollo Magazine
“A beautiful production: a typographic and calligraphic treat as treasurable as a rare magical text itself. Almost every page is filled with wonder.”—Suzi Feay, The Spectator
“A magical book about magic books! . . . Davies’s impeccable research, engaging prose, and profound insights make Art of the Grimoire a must-read.”—Debbra Palmer, New York Journal of Books
“This is simply the best illustrated history of magical texts yet written, covering the whole of history and of the planet with equal erudition.”—Ronald Hutton, Bristol University
“An utterly compelling and timely exploration of a neglected artistic tradition, with vast implications for our understanding of magic’s visual history and the role of material culture in shaping its transmission across the centuries.”—Bruce Holsinger, University of Virginia
“Through its innovative focus on magical texts and images, Art of the Grimoire presents an admirably global survey of the history of magic across space and time.”—Michael D. Bailey, Iowa State University