Friday, January 27, 2006

Fairies, the dead, and book-blogging

Spring semester has started, and teaching does cut into blogging time. And my reading list (for myself) is huge: all the books that I ordered at AAR-SBL (and elsewhere) started arriving in December.

I just finished At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, and Other Troublesome Things. Author Diane Purkiss is an Oxford historian, primarily of early modern England, and this book is a romp. She does not set out to "explain" fairies, but rather to trace the different ways that they have been depicted--from being rather interchangeable with the Dead to being literary creations, evocations of rural charm, inspiration of Irish nationalism, and advertising gimmicks.

Factoid: Proctor & Gamble won't admit it, but apparently in the early 1930s the company dropped its successful Fairy Soap and Fairy Liquid, previously sold with images of helpful fairies assisting the housemaids, because the term "fairy" was increasingly synonymous with "homosexual."

While dealing with Fairy-like characters in The X-Files, Purkiss oddly misses Jacques Vallee's Passport to Magonia which argued back in 1969 that Fairies and UFO aliens were the same class of interdimensional beings in different guises.

The Trickster and the ParanormalThese are stacked on the dog kennel-nightstand:

Dereck Daschke and Mike Ashcraft, eds., New Religious Movements: A Documentary Reader. Rastafarians! UFO cults! Wiccans! All of us in the study of new religious movements are in it for the spectacle.

Sabina Magliocco, Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America. I mentioned it earlier, but I had to send the review copy to someone else and only recently acquired my own.

Robert Cochrane, The Robert Cochrane Letters: An Insight into Modern Traditional Witchcraft. Never mind the oxymoron in the subtitle; it's the subtle and shifty Cochrane in his own words.

Nikki Bado-Fralick, Coming to the Edge of the Circle: A Wiccan Initiation Ritual. Taking on Arnold van Gennep's hallowed theory on initiation--and Nikki is the new Pomegranate reviews editor, too.

George P. Hansen, The Trickster and the Paranormal. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Ufologists saw a progression happening, from "saucer" sightings to "alien" sightings to . . . certainly . . . the "third kind"--direct contact. But why is resolution always just beyond our grasp?

David H. Brown, SanterĂ­a Enthroned: Art, Ritual, and Innovation in an Afro-Cuban Religion. It's not just for Cubans anymore.

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