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104 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY It is here that the book may prove less satisfactory to some than to others. The anthropologist is helpful in reminding us of our origins and of the physical self and its needs. He or she criticizes with justice unreal attitudes with regard to the basic physical characteristics of man. Society should be made strongly aware of any split between social convention and individual practice. However, where the striking feature of current practice is unawareness of the standards of civilization, and where contemporary education tends to leave out any inculcation of restraint and other-regarding values, it would appear dangerous to concentrate upon origins without defining ends. Physical and emotional satisfactions are good, but humane good is a more complex thing than a sum of satisfactions. The implication that the one basic good is material and that othcr values are extrinsic and secondary fails to convince. Thus, while the wholeness in human life which Dr. Mead so strongly and so rightly desiderates will be better understood by those who read her book, human wholeness would seem far from men's grasp as long as their view of good remains naturalistic. M. M. KIRKWOOD Ritual Magic. By E. M. BUTLER. Cambridge: at the University Press [Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada]. 1949. Pp. x, 329. ($4.25) Within the last fifty years the careful studies of field anthropologists in many parts of the world have described for the first time the place of magic in the lives of diverse peoples. Sometimes akin to science, sometimes to religion, magical practices, having the common clement of the control of powers or beings, play a prominent part in the lives of most of the so-called primitive peoples of today or yesterday . In Europe, however, the "accidents of history" drove much of magic into concealment; it became a black art, associated with demons and devils, condemned by the church, and regarded with horror by the righteous. To what extent this condemnation, with the circulation of distorted tales, and the appeal of the prohibited, may have aided the continuance of magical practice is, perhaps, a problem for the psychologist. Suffice to say that, in spite of the hostility of church and state, various types of magic have been practised for centuries in Europe. Professor Butler's theme is a fascinating onc, namely, the tracing of magical ceremonies to control spirits from Akkad to the twentieth century. From the earlier sources there developed a series of rituals SHORTER NOTICES 105 loosely associated with Solomon, as the master magician. These included extremely complex ceremonies in which symbolism, drama, and verbal incantations were combined. From this source came the inspiration of books of magic that were circulated secretly in Europe. Professor Butler follows her theme with the scholarly approach of the historian combined with what can only be called the determination and ingenuity of a detective. Now quoting from a fourteenth-century book of magical rituals (the proud but illegal possession of some optimistic seeker after power ), then from the confession (before or after torture) of some alleged practitioner, she traces a change from the concept of unilateral control over unwilling spirits, through the Faustian concept of a mutual pact, to the gradual decline of ritual magic in the last century. The devotees of magic are a strange crew, ranging from avaricious adventurers, peasant simpletons, renegade monks, to Gilles de Rais, the gallant associate of Joan of Arc, to Madame de Montespan, the favourite of Louis XIV, and to those who looked up to "Faust." Ironically, today they are best known through the imaginative genius of Shakespeare and Milton. Ritual Magic is not a book to be picked up for light reading. Miss Butler writes clearly and with assurance on a hroad subject; her presentation is scholarly to a degree, but she pays her readers the compliment of assuming considerable knowledge of history, philosophy, and magic, and the ability to follow an intricate argument. T. F. MclLwRAITH BOOKS RECEIVED Beginning with this issue a list of Books Received will appear in October, January, and July. A "book which is mentioned in this list may be reviewed l"ter. We begin here with books...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 104-105
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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