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Exorcism and Enlightenment: Johann Joseph Gassner and the Demons of Eighteenth-Century Germany
Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft
  • Michael D. Bailey, Iowa State University
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Book Review
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Published Version
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Once upon a time, scholars were sure that the Reformation had "disenchanted" the world. Max Weber said so, after all. By casting aside saints' relics and sacramentals, Protestant theologians seemed to have undercut the "magic of the medieval church" and created a more modern and "rational" form of religion. Then we noticed the inconvenient truth that witch-hunting had continued and, in fact, had reached its height during the Reformation era. The Scientific Revolution seemed the next obvious period to locate disenchantment and the clear transition from a magical and spirit-obsessed premodern world to empirical, rational modernity. The closer one looks at early modern science, however, the less it appears to have marked an absolute break from other contemporary modes of thought. But the Enlightenment, at least, with its goal of crushing all superstitious "infamy," seemed reassuringly [End Page 220] and reliably modern. Did not Enlightenment philosophes openly deride belief in spirits, demons, and occult powers of every ilk? Do they not sound so very much like us?

This is a book review from Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 3 (2008): 220, doi:10.1353/mrw.0.0120. Posted with permission.

All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations used for purposes of scholarly citation, none of this work may be reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher. For information address the University of Pennsylvania Press, 3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112.
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University of Pennsylvania Press
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Michael D. Bailey. "Exorcism and Enlightenment: Johann Joseph Gassner and the Demons of Eighteenth-Century Germany" Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft Vol. 3 Iss. 2 (2008) p. 220 - 223
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