Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Reads for Walpurgis Night

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes - Witches' Sabbath (The Great He-Goat)
Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), via Wikimedia Commons
Witches' Sabbath or The Great He-Goat, (1821-1823)  from the Black Paintings Series
oil on canvas,
140.5 x 435.7 cm
Prado Museum, Madrid

The night of 30 April is Walpurgis Night, the night of the witches. According to Germanic folklore it’s the night when witches and sorcerers meet on the Brocken, the highest peak of the Harz Mountains in central Germany, to celebrate one of the infamous Witches’ Sabbaths. Many legends of witches who worship Satan banqueting, dancing, cavorting, and having sex shroud the night… and unfortunately, fuelled the imagination of men like Heinrich Kramer, the author of the Malleus Maleficarum or Hammer of Witches. Thus it is inseparably linked to one of the darkest periods in European history, namely that of witch-hunts and auto-da-fés.

It goes without saying that the feast also found expression in literature, not to mention that as late witches have come quite into fashion among writers. Here’s an arbitrary selection of ten suitable reads for Walpurgis Night:
  1. John Bellairs: The House with a Clock in Its Walls (1973)
  2. Mikhail Bulgakov: Мaстер и Маргарита (1967), translated as The Master and Margarita 
  3. Paulo Coelho: A Bruxa de Portobello (2006), translated as The Witch of Portobello 
  4. Karl Kraus: Die Dritte Walpurgisnacht (1933), no translation found
  5. H. P. Lovecraft: The Dreams In the Witch House (1932) 
  6. Thomas Mann: Der Zauberberg (1924), translated as The Magic Mountain
  7. Gustav Meyrink: Walpurgisnacht (1917) 
  8. Thomas Pynchon: Gravity's Rainbow (1973) 
  9. Bram Stocker: Dracula’s Guest (1914) 
  10. Dennis Wheatley: The Devil Rides Out (1934)

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