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  • Voyager avec le diable: Voyages réels, voyages imaginaires et discours démonologiques (XVe-XVIIe siècles)
  • Margaret Harvey
Voyager avec le diable: Voyages réels, voyages imaginaires et discours démonologiques (XVe-XVIIe siècles). Edited by Gregoire Holtz and Thibaut Maus de Rolley, Paris, PUPS, 2008. 320 pp. Pb €24.00.

In this rich and interesting collection, travel has a variety of meanings. We travel literally into hell. An essay on the visio of Tundal by Cavagna has an interesting account of the changing nature of such journeys in the literature, which shows very clearly, for instance, that the idea of purgatory was thoroughly alive in the vision of Drithelm. Cavagna points out, however, that it was only from the twelfth century that the traveller himself undergoes sufferings and trials on his journey. Tundal actually looks into the depth of hell and for the first time in this type of literature, sees the devil. By the early modern period, however, the devil had escaped from hell and several of the pieces here show that there was discussion about his restless nature. By the seventeenth century, the literature of demonology was so extensive (and well known) that comic accounts of possession were possible. Houdard explores one such: Le Gascon Extravagant. Maus de Rolley shows that Kepler used the idea of a journey with the devil to discuss theories about the universe where the devil has the false theories and the journey is a nightmare. Essays discuss the influence of the discoveries of new places in the world on the ideas about the devil. De Lancre, as several writers note (e.g. Lestringant, Jaques-Lefèvre), thought that the devil had been chased out of the New World [End Page 118] and had returned in force to the Old. English seamen had seen crowds of devils crossing the channel. But similarly the devil was to be found particularly in some of the new places, either because they were godless or because Christianity was now advancing. The witches of Labourd confessed to flying after their menfolk to cause storms in the fishing grounds where they went for cod. To some people, the natural place for devils was this new world. Several pieces discuss the influence on missionaries and geographers of their already formed theories about the devil when they tried to make sense of the new world. Holtz considers the problems of analogy and its limits, when some observers, believing that the devil penetrated everywhere, interpreted Indian ritual as an inversion of Christian rites. Laborie shows how observers were often torn, in their vision of Brasil for instance, between the notion of an Eden and of Hell. Bideaux points out that all non-Christian rituals were likely to be given a diabolical explanation. This, of course, prevented objective observation. ‘Twas ever thus!’ Moreau shows Bodin, arguing with Weyer to prove that witch flight was truly possible and contrasts this with Sorel whose mechanistic (Deist in English terms) universe had fixed laws and did not allow miracle or devil. This is primarily a book for literary scholars but historians (and even theologians) should find much of interest. It has some illustrations and a useful bibliography.

Margaret Harvey
Durham University


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pp. 118-119
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