This book is one of the most cited references about werewolves. The Book of the Were-Wolf takes a rationalistic approach to the subject.
The book starts off with a straightforward academic review of the literature of shape-shifting; however, starting with Chapter XI, the narrative takes a strange turn into sensationalistic 'true crime' case-studies of cannibals, grave desecrators, and blood fetishists, which have a tenuous connection with lycanthropy. This includes an extended treatment of the case of Giles de Rais, the notorious associate of Joan of Arc, who was convicted and executed for necrosadistic crimes.
Twenty-four legendary figures — among others, Saint Patrick, the Pied Piper, knights of the Holy Grail, and St. George — are rejuvenated in this collection for a new audience. In addition to outlines of the myths, the author provides an objective analysis of their origins, relevance, and the extent of their basis in fact. Fascinating sources include Christian adaptations of prehistoric legends, misinterpretations of actual events, and outright fabrications. Accompanying illustrations provide a visual appreciation for these timeless classics. A marvelous introduction to age-old stories, this oft-cited work will be of value and interest to students, scholars, and other readers.
The Mussulman traditions are nearly all derived from the Talmudic writers, just as the history of Christ in the Koran is taken from the Apocryphal Gospels. The Koran follows the “Sepher Hajaschar” (Book of the Just) far more closely than the canonical Scriptures; and the “Sepher Hajaschar” is a storehouse of the Rabbinic tradition on the subject of the Patriarchs from Adam to Joshua.
The Jewish traditions are of various value. Some can be traced to their origin without fail. One class is derived from Persia, as, for instance, those of Asmodeus, the name of the demon being taken, along with his story, from Iranian sources. Another class springs from the Cabbalists, who, by permutation of the letters of a name, formed the nuclei, so to speak, from which legends spread.
Another class, again, is due to the Rabbinic commentators, who, unable to allow for poetical periphrasis, insisted on literal interpretations, and then coined fables to explain them. Thus the saying of David, “Thou hast heard me from among the horns of the unicorns,” which signified that David was assisted by God in trouble, was taken quite literally by the Rabbis, and a story was invented to explain it.
Another class, again, is no doubt due to the exaggeration of Oriental imagery, just as that previously mentioned is due to the deficiency of the poetic fancy in certain Rabbis. Thus, imagination and defect of imagination, each contributed to add to the store.
But when we have swept all these classes aside, there remains a residuum, small, no doubt, of genuine tradition. To this class, if I am not mistaken, belong the account of Lamech and his wives, and the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. In the latter instance, the type comes out far clearer in the Talmudic tradition that in the canonical Scriptures; and this can hardly have been the result of Jewish interpolation, knowing, as they did, that Christians pointed triumphantly to this type.
With regard to Jewish traditions, it is unfortunate that both Eisenmenger and Bartolocci, who collected many of them, were so prejudiced, so moved with violent animosity against the Rabbinic writers, that they preserved only the grotesque, absurd, and indecent legends, and wholly passed over those—and there are many of them—which are redolent of poetry, and which contain an element of truth.
A certain curious interest attaches to these legends—at least, I think so; and, should they find favor with the public, this volume will be followed by another series on the legends connected with the New Testament characters.
When the procession formed to enter the minster for the consecration, the devil lurked in ambush behind a pillar, and fixed his wicked eye on a fine fat and succulent little chorister as his destined prey. But alas for his hopes! this fat little boy had been given his instructions, and, as he neared the great door, loosed the chain of a wolf and sent it through. The evil one uttered a howl of rage, snatched up the wolf and rushed away, giving the door a kick, as he passed it, that split the solid oak.
The castle of Gleichberg, near Rönskild, was erected by the devil in one night. The Baron of Gleichberg was threatened by his foes, and he promised to give the devil his daughter if he erected the castle before cockcrow. The nurse overheard the compact, and, just as the castle was finished, set fire to a stack of corn. The cock, seeing the light, thought morning had come, and crowed before the last stone was added to the walls. The devil in a rage carried off the old baron—and served him right—instead of the maiden. We shall see presently how this story works into our subject.
At Frankfort may be seen, on the Sachsenhäuser Bridge, an iron rod with a gilt cock on the top. This is the reason: An architect undertook to build the bridge within a fixed time, but three days before that on which he had contracted to complete it, the bridge was only half finished. In his distress he invoked the devil, who undertook the job if he might receive the first who crossed the bridge. The work was done by the appointed day, and then the architect drove a cock over the bridge. The devil, who had reckoned on getting a human being, was furious; he tore the poor cock in two, and flung it with such violence at the bridge that he knocked two holes in it, which to the present day cannot be closed, for if stones are put in by day they are torn out by night. In memorial of the event, the image of the cock was set up on the bridge.
This is not a guide-book, but an introduction to the country, to be supplemented by guide-books. The area is so extensive, that I have had to exercise restraint and limit myself to a few of the most salient features and most profitable centres whence excursions may be made. The Cévennes should be visited from March to June, afterwards the heat is too great for travelling to be comfortable. For inns, consult the annual volume of the French Touring Club; Baedeker and Joanne cannot always be relied on, as proprietors change, either for the better or for the worse. I have been landed in unsatisfactory quarters by relying on one or other of these guide-books, owing to the above-mentioned reason.
The "Touring-Club de France," Avenue de la Grande Armée 65, Paris, is doing excellent work in refusing to recommend a hotel unless the sanitary arrangements be up-to-date.
The gentry or nobility—the terms are the same on the Continent—went to live in the towns. They could no longer afford to inhabit their country mansions. They acquired a taste for town life, its conveniences, its distractions, its amusements; they ceased to feel interest in country pursuits; they only visited their mansions for about eight weeks in the year, for the Sommer-frische. Those who could not afford to furnish two houses, carted that amount of furniture which was absolutely necessary to their country houses for the holiday, and that concluded, carted it back to town again. This state of things continues. Whilst the family is in residence at the Schloss it lives economically; it is there for a little holiday; it does not concern itself with the peasants, the sick, the suffering, the necessitous. It is there—pour s'amuser. The consequence is that the Schloss is without a civilizing influence, without moral force in the place. The country folk have little interest in the family, and the family concerns itself less with the people.
Not only so, but it brings little money into the place. It employs no labour. It is there not to keep open house, but to shut up the purse. In former days the landlord exacted his rents, but then he lived in the midst of his tenants, and the money that came in as rent went out as wage, and in payment for butter, eggs, meat, oats, and hay. The money collected out of a place returned to it again. It is so in many country places in England now where squire and parson live on the land.
In Germany the peasant has stepped out of obligation to the landlord into bondage to the Jew, who receives, but spends nothing. In France the condition is much the same; the great house is a ruin, and so, very generally, is the family that occupies and owns it, if it still lingers on in it.
We are all werewolves. Or at least, according to supernatural expert Sabine Baring-Gould, we are all capable of becoming werewolves. Written in 1868, this selection from Baring-Gould's massive tome on werewolves will have you locking the doors and looking over your shoulder. Into the mirror.
The werewolf, one of the most misunderstood of all mythical beings, comes to life in this unique look at the were-creatures of Scandinavian origin. Written in 1865 by Sabine Baring-Gould, the man behind the famous hymnal "Onward, Christian Soldiers" proves his deep understanding of the half-man, half-beast.