PERRAULT, Francois. Demonologie ou Traitte des demons et sorciers: de leur puissance & impuissance, L’antidemon de Mascon, ou Histoire particvliere & tresveritable de ce qu’vn demon a fait & dit à Mascon.

Geneva, Chez Pierre Aubert, 1653.

£3,500

FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. [xxxii], 233, [xxiii], 78. [par.]-2[par.]⁸, A-Q⁸, Aa-Dd⁸, Ee⁸. (lacking Ee8 blank). Roman letter, some Italic. Floriated woodcut initials, woodcut head and tail-pieces, bookplate of Dr. Maurice Villaret on pastedown. Light age yellowing, very light spotting on title and a few margins. A very good, clean copy in late nineteenth century three-quarter brown morocco over marbled paper boards, signed David, spine with raised bands, gilt title, all edges gilt.

First edition of this rare and most interesting work on demonology in general with a highly unusual second part recounting the author’s personal experience of a haunting, or poltergeist, in which he and his household were subject to a series of unremitting attacks from an evil spirit; the work was written by Perrault (or Perreaud) in 1613 but not published until 1653, when he was already 81 years old. It was translated into English and German and reprinted several times.

“The Demonologie was not written as a free standing treatise. Its significance therefore derives from its being a preface to L’Antidemon de Macon, a highly personal account of an extended haunting which Perreaud explains by referring to maleficent magic. After describing the poltergeist activity at length, he then informs the reader that some people thought the trouble lay with his wife’s maid who was already suspected of being a witch and came from a suspect family. .. His favoured explanation, however, involves a third person altogether. The previous owner (of the house) had had to be dispossessed by judicial judgement in order to make way for the Perreauds, and naturally she was resentful … Perreaud tells us she was discovered one day kneeling beneath the chimney calling upon the devil to do harm to him and his family. Perreaud’s experience, then, reluctantly published so long after the event, provides us with a reminder of seventeenth-century Protestant attitudes towards preternatural phenomena. L’Antidemon along with the prefatory Demonologie, supports traditional Protestant views on possession and witch-craft, for it acknowledges that Satan’s power is real but limited and that his attacks are part of God’s plan for humanity .. .. Perreaud’s Demonologie, then, neatly summaries the principal lines taken by a Protestant divine when discussing magic, its manifestations in the created world and the way humans may cope with these. The Antidemon which follows gives a particular instance of a preternatural happening and an illustration of how a devout Calvinist family dealt with it. Most significantly, perhaps, while the Demonologie had reiterated orthodox teaching against Satan’s tendency to work through illusion, Perreaud was in no doubt that his ghostly experiences had been real and had been caused by a deliberate operation of maleficent magic. Orthodoxy and experience, it seems, were not necessarily always in agreement.” P. G. Maxwell-Stuart. ‘Religion and Superstition in Reformation Europe.’

A very good copy of this extremely rare work from the library of the noted neurologist and collector of early medical books and works on demonology and witchcraft, Dr. Maurice Villaret.

BM STC Fr. C17th p. 429, P814. Caillet 8530: “ouvrage curieux et rare, surtout en édition ancienne”. Thorndike VIII, 545. Coumont, Demonology and witchcraft P25.1.

L1711

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