Cover image for Between the living and the dead : a perspective on witches and seers in the early modern age
Between the living and the dead : a perspective on witches and seers in the early modern age
Pócs, Éva.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Élők és holtak, látók és boszorkányok. English
Publication Information:
Budapest : Central European University Press ; Ithaca, N.Y. : Distributed in the U.S. by Cornell University Press Services, 1999.
Physical Description:
186 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF1584.E9 P6313 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Eva Pocs, one of the most highly respected scholars of historical anthropology, has undertaken extensive research on the history of folk beliefs connected with communication and the supernatural sphere. In this book, she examines the relics of European shamanism in early modern sources, and the techniques and belief-systems of mediators found in the records of witchcraft trials from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. The book explores the various communication systems known to early modern Hungarians, describes the role of these systems in everyday village life, and shows how they were connected to contemporary European systems, as well as new types of mediators and systems which function right up to the twentieth century.

Representing a major contribution to the most up-to-date international research, Eva Pocs draws on significant East European material and literature not previously co-ordinated with that from the West.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Fascination with the phenomenon of medieval witchcraft and witch hunting has produced a plethora of works detailing new discoveries and theories in a continuing attempt to understand one of Europe's most enduring historical legacies. Until recently, however, English language works have neglected central southeastern European regions. This newly translated work by Eva Pocs (anthropology, Janus Pannonius Univ., Pecs, Hungary) begins to fill some gaps while providing valuable insights into parallels between this region and western Europe. Pocs argues that fairies, magicians, seers, and witches each played a dualistic mediatory role in the life of the early modern Hungarian village. Rather than seeing these systems of mediation as evolving from benevolent to demonic, she convincingly shows that they were interactive and concurrent. By demonstrating the positive and negative functions of the belief figure, Pocs effectively draws attention to the dual nature of the witch as an important, albeit dangerous, element of communal life. In documentation and analysis, the work supports Carlo Ginzburg's The Night Battles (1983). While Pocs at times asserts minor questionable conclusions based on fragmentary evidence, this in no way detracts from her overall thesis. The text would be greatly enhanced by better correlations between the text and illustrations and including more illustrations from Hungarian sources. Excellent bibliography. J. W. Dippmann University of Wisconsin--Stout