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Witchcraft Collection

  Francis Barrett.  The Magus

View Images: Angels & Demons

Devil or Angel?

The religious supernatural recognizes\zed a self torn between transcendent forces that fought for its possession. The Devil and his minions, the Demons, engaged in a struggle for the soul with the angels and guardian spirits. When the religious supernatural expresses the search for salvation in terms of conflict and terror it anticipates the universe of Fantastic anxiety. A particular interest in this cluster of images is the material drawn from Cornell's extensive Witchcraft collection.

Click image for detailed description and enlargements

View Images: Danse Macabre

Danse Macabre, Dance of Death, Todtentanz

A grim saraband of skeletons, coming to take you away. Momento mori: remember that you must die. The middle ages preached this lesson with particular intensity. Graphic artists-- Hans Holbein most influentially-- responded to the urgency, to the undeniable power of this topos with scenes in which a dancing, skeletal Reaper came for the archbishop and the servant, the judge and the doctor, the mother and the child. In the nineteenth century the motif is re-energized by revolution and social upheaval, and heralds the arrival of a social fantastic with Alfred Rethel’s great series, Auch ein Todtentanz. Cornell’s extensive collection includes rare works that have never been reproduced in the literature devoted to the subject. Freund’s Heins Erscheinungen (in Holbein’s Manier) and Merkel and Flegel’s Bilder des Todes join Thomas Rowlandsonís satirical classic English Dance of Death, for especially remarkable depictions of suicide. The collection also contains early, important studies, like Peignot’s Recherches sur les danses des morts (1826), which links the theme to the iconography of playing cards; Achille Jubinal’s Explication de la danse des morts de la Chaise-Dieu (1841) a hand-colored example of early art-historical interest in ecclesiastical danse macabre frescoes; and E.-H. Langlois’s definitive Essai sur la danse des morts (1852).



View Images: Weird Science 

Weird Science

Magic The Black Arts and the Occult: The basis of many a fantastic tale involves an invisible world of secrets, accessible with a particular kind of knowledge. Magic, alchemy and the occult are thus keys that allow entry into certain zones of the Fantastic. More important, they drive the intellectual engine of the Fantastic; even as they wane, they preside over the gestation of science fiction. The grimoire of the Magus becomes the mad-scientist’s user’s manual. Our selections include depictions of witches and sorcerers, instruction pages from the classic work of secret sciences entitled The Magus, illustrations of alchemical workshops, cabalistic mappings of biblical passages, and cover illustrations from the first issues of Amazing Stories, Hugo Gernsbach’s celebrated pulp journal devoted to science and fantastic fiction. We close this section with the Calendrier Magique of Austin de Croze, a sumptuous visual account of the occultist fervor of the late nineteenth century in France.



View Images: Bestiary

The Bestiary

An extraordinary compilation where the paradigmatic struggle between observation and vision so crucial to the Fantastic is constantly played out. By the time of the early Enlightenment, the Bestiary, like its more recnent relative the Encyclopedia, participates in the totalizing intent of a catalogue whose purpose is the scientific understanding of the world. Empirical observation banishes from these increasingly imposing tomes any creatures that have not been observed in their environment. So the unicorn and the dragon, the griffon and the sea serpent, and all their relations take refuge in the annals of folklore, until the fantastic and its adjudant, surrealism, release them once more into literary discourse from the prisons where rational inquiry had consigned them.



View Images: The Marvelous

The Marvelous

In strict contrast to the Fantastic, The Marvelous allows for the existence or occurrence of supernatural events without the attendant anxiety or fear. The stuff of legend, of folklore, and of the fable or fairy tale, the Marvelous often employs seduction and humor in achieving its effects, traits which are frequently absent from the Fantastic. The sources for the images in this section are for the most part the literature of myths and legends, of fables and fairy tales. An extensive and unusual collection of Russian fables on deposit in Kroch library accounts for many of the selections.



View Images: The Grotesque

The Grotesque

A powerful esthetic category involving disruption and distortion of hierarchical or canonical assumptions. The notion combines ugliness and ornament, the bizarre and the ridiculous, the excessive and the unreal. The term derives from the Italian term for grottos (grotteschi), i.e., the ruins in which statuettes of distorted figures were found in the XV and XVI centuries. The Romantic era, with its interest in the dispossessed, in all those who before the age of Revolution had been nameless and invisible, made the grotesque its indispensable adjunct. Victor Hugo, for whom the grotesque was indispensable opposite the sublime, aptly indulged his penchant for antithesis when he claimes that the grotesque is "the richest source nature can offer art." M. Bahktin placed the grotesque at the heart of the carnivalesque spirit.

With its insistence on ironic reversals, on fluent and fertile opposites, the grotesque also resembles the topos of The World Upside-Down, that topsy-turvy universe where things are no longer in their place, where order is disrupted, where hierarchies tumble, and the Fool is king. Both the Grotesque and The World Upside-Down possess a darkly comic portent, that the fantastic uncovers and explores; both serve the key function of revealing the constructed nature of rationality, of the mandate that everything be in its place. The surface relationships by which daily life is governed are anything but ordained and stable; indeed, they can be understood as absolute only by dint of a sustained illusion.



View Images: Possession & Insanity

Possession & Insanity


The self taken-over, will overcome, autonomy lost. The theme of possession in the supernatural marvelous, and subsequently in the fantastic, rarely lacks a quotient of fear. In this sense, possession helps bridge the gap between the marvelous and the fantastic, by asserting the presence of dread within the context of a supernatural acknowledged as real. As the marvelous morphs into the fantastic, however, the nature of possession changes. Demonic possession from a religious perspective fades in the nineteenth century, as the age of anxiety discovers the doppelgänger, exhumes and resurrects the Ghosts, Vampires and Werewolves of folkloric legends. These fearsome exponents of a living death are now endowed with powerful psychological and sexual connotations, which in the course of the nineteenth century, bring possession by madness and hysteria to the fore.



View Images: Fantastic Space

Fantastic Space

The space in which the fantastic event unfurls takes on a life of its own, strongly marked by what C. W. Thomsen calls visionary architecture’s "tendency to externalize an inward vision." This dynamic is on display in the Romantic fascination with ruins, or in Piranesi’s celebrated Imaginary Prison engravings, where hellish fears of incarnation and torture are inscribed on a massive scale. Poe’s epochal Fall of the House of Usher confers a grim aura on the Gothic edifice. The space of dreaming takes on an importance of its own.



View Images: Freaks, Monsters, & Prodigies

Freaks, Monsters, & Prodigies

All give the Fantastic an embodied form. Monstrosity was experienced in the age of the marvelous as prodigious, thus retaining the key emotional componenet of awe. Later, under the influence of medical emperimentation and enlightenment science, research assigned the freak a rational category, but without eliminating the new and complex component of dread. Hybrid creatures no longer inspired the amazement of the creatures of ancient myth. As teratology begins to catalog monsters for the age of reason, literature gives them voice.



from   Cornell Institute for Digital Collections

Фрэнсис Барретт

Точные годы жизни неизвестны

Фрэнсис Барретт, практически неизвестный автор книги "Маг" ("Magus"), краткого руководства по оккультизму и магии, изданного в 1801 году.

Англичанин по происхождению, Барретт притязал на то, что является знатоком химии, метафизики и естественной оккультной философии. Он был чрезвычайным эксцентриком, давал уроки магических искусств у себя дома и дотошно переводил Каббалу и другие древние тексты на английский язык.

Он страстно хотел восстановить интерес к оккультным искусствам и, вероятно, повлиял на английского оккультного романиста Бульвер-Литтона. Но "Маг" не пользовался популярностью до тех пор, пока этот труд не возымел влияния на Элифаса Леви.

"Маг" описывал природную магию трав и камней, магнетизм; талисманную магию; алхимию и другие средства для создания философского камня; а также сам Философский Камень, нумерологию; элементы, а также биографии известных адептов, вошедших в историю.

Рассуждая о ведьмах, Барретт заявлял, что не верит в их способность мучить или убивать очарованием, с помощью прикосновения или изображения на воске, исходящих от Сатаны. Он утверждал, что если Дьявол хочет убить человека, повинного в смертном грехе, он не нуждается в посреднике.

Воззрения Барретта относительно магической силы можно резюмировать следующим образом: магическая сила заключена во внутреннем мире, или душе человека. Определённая часть души человека жаждет распространиться на всё. Когда человек пребывает в надлежащем состоянии, надлежащей результат между человеком и предметом может быть достигнут.

Книга "Маг" также служила ему рекламой. С ее помощью Барретт искал заинтересованных людей, желающих формировать свой магический круг. Неизвестно, достиг ли он своей цели, но британский историк Монтегю Саммерс утверждал, что Барретт имел успех, и превратил Кембридж в центр магии.


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