Cover image for The possession at Loudun
Title:
The possession at Loudun
Author:
Certeau, Michel de.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Possession de Loudun. English
Publication Information:
Chicago, IL : University of Chicago Press, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
xi, 251 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
ISBN:
9780226100340

9780226100357
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library BF1517.F5 C4713 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

It 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 an 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Interweaving substantial excerpts from primary historical documents with fascinating commentary, de Certeau shows how the plague of sorceries and possessions in France that climaxed in the events at Loudun both revealed the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.

At the time of his death in 1986, Michel de Certeau was a director of studies at the #65533;cole des hautes #65533;tudes en sciences sociales, Paris. He was author of eighteen books in French, three of which have appeared in English translation as The Practice of Everyday Life, The Writing of History, and The Mystic Fable, Volume 1, the last of which is published by The University of Chicago Press.

"Brilliant and innovative. . . . The Possession at Loudun is [de Certeau's] most accessible book and one of his most wonderful."--Stephen Greenblatt (from the Foreword)


Summary

It 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 an 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.

At the time of his death in 1986, Michel de Certeau was a director of studies at the #65533;cole des hautes #65533;tudes en sciences sociales, Paris. He was author of eighteen books in French, three of which have appeared in English translation as The Practice of Everyday Life, The Writing of History, and The Mystic Fable, Volume 1, the last of which is published by The University of Chicago Press.

"Brilliant and innovative. . . . The Possession at Loudun is [de Certeau's] most accessible book and one of his most wonderful."--Stephen Greenblatt (from the Foreword)


Author Notes

At the time of his death in 1986, Michel de Certeau was a director of studies at the Ecole des hautes #65533;tudes 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.


At the time of his death in 1986, Michel de Certeau was a director of studies at the Ecole des hautes #65533;tudes 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.


Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Eminent French Jesuit intellectual and historian de Certeau (1925-86) documents with scholarly detail the events surrounding the alleged diabolic possession of 17 nuns in an Ursuline convent during the early 1630s in the provincial French town of Loudun. A cause clbre for years afterward, the matter touched Cardinal Richelieu and the monarchy and has been the subject of drama, opera, and the writings of Aldous Huxley, among others. Affairs culminated in the execution of accused priest-sorcerer Urbain Grandier, followed by a triumphant tour by the convent's mother superior. Politics, both ecclesiastical and civil, permeate the many official sources quoted, as unexplained phenomena and exorcisms vie with local self-interests and hysteria in a major theatrical spectacle of the time. This translation of the original French text (1970) makes the author's brilliant work accessible to English-speaking readers. De Certeau's analyses are not an easy read, as he dissects mystical, psychoanalytical, and sociological elements of events. For specialized collections.DAnna M. Donnelly, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
ForewordStephen Greenblatt
Translator's Acknowledgments
History Is Never Sure
1 How a Possession is Born
2 The Magic Circle
3 The Discourse of Possession
4 The Accused: Urbain Grandier
5 Politics in Loudun: Laubardemont
6 Beginning the Judicial Inquiry
7 The Theater of the Possessed
8 The Medical Eye
9 A Teratology of Truth
I The Imagination
II The Liar
10 The Judgment of the Sorcerer
11 The Execution: Legend and History
12 After Death, Literature
13 The Time of Spirituality: Father Surin
14 The Triumph of Jeanne des Anges
Figures of the Other
Primary Sources and Bibliography
Notes
Index
List of Illustrations
ForewordStephen Greenblatt
Translator's Acknowledgments
History Is Never Sure
1 How a Possession is Born
2 The Magic Circle
3 The Discourse of Possession
4 The Accused: Urbain Grandier
5 Politics in Loudun: Laubardemont
6 Beginning the Judicial Inquiry
7 The Theater of the Possessed
8 The Medical Eye
9 A Teratology of Truth
I The Imagination
II The Liar
10 The Judgment of the Sorcerer
11 The Execution: Legend and History
12 After Death, Literature
13 The Time of Spirituality: Father Surin
14 The Triumph of Jeanne des Anges
Figures of the Other
Primary Sources and Bibliography
Notes
Index

Google Preview