Read the evil eye the origins and practices of superstition by Frederick Thomas Elworthy Online


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Title : the evil eye the origins and practices of superstition
Author :
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ISBN : 22837635
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 471 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

the evil eye the origins and practices of superstition Reviews

  • Christopher Roth
    2019-02-08 10:21

    I knew very little about the evil eye, so this was educational for me, but this book has all of the drawbacks one can expect from a work of comparative ethnology from this era (ca. 1890). In Tylorian fashion, aspects of "fascination"--as the practice of ocular ensorcelment is known--are discussed by ranging across time and space for each discussion, never settling for very long in looking at a particular culture or period in depth. And many of the speculations and assertions about the spread of culture traits are ethnocentric to say the least and not only are superceded in many cases by facts but are undermined by a tendency to view images and concepts as though they were innate, or transmissible through some occult process. Most grievously, in discussing superstition in general, and certain ideas in particular, Elworthy draws a distinction between "superstition" on the one hand and, on the other "science" and (Christian) "Revelation," which latter two he sees as equal paths to the Truth. Now, I won't criticize anyone for being Christian or anything else, but, really now, if you spend your life studying "superstitions" and refuse to notice that they are not qualitatively and epistemologically distinct from the tenets of your own faith, you're not really paying attention. If he's not going to accept the thorough-going agnosticism of his contemporaries E.B. Tylor and J.G. Frazer (Tylor was a neighbor of his in Somersetshire)--and far be it from me to demand he do so--Elworthy should at least have dodged the issue and not made himself look ridiculous.But Elworthy's training was not as a scientist, let alone social scientist (in fact, Tylor et al. were in the very process of inventing the social sciences in that era), but as a folklorist and linguist (who in those days were squarely in the humanities). It turns out he was a prolific contributor to James Murray's Oxford English Dictionary and that his monograph on the English of Somersetshire is considered a pioneering work of dialectology, the first full, proper holistic treatment of a living folk dialect as a system. In fact, some of the best parts of The Evil Eye are his frequent allusions to folk beliefs in Somersetshire, including but hardly limited to the Evil Eye as strictly defined. In some cases, he cites informants' statements on supernatural topics overheard that very week in or near his home, and he renders them in dialect.Lastly, Elworthy drops a few nuggets of speculation and rumination early on in the book to the effect that there is something about the Gaze that is a core feature of all witchcraft and even much social friction in all societies in general. He never develops this, but it so clearly anticipates work by theorists as far-ranging as Foucault and David Graeber that I wonder if there have been attempts to recuperate Elworthy as somehow theoretically prescient in this regard ... although, really, mostly he was just lucky.