Better Late Than Never

Brief notes of some books which slipped through the net and were not reviewed in Magonia Review when first published, but which are worthy of comment here.  Notes by Peter Rogerson.
Bennett, Jeffrey S. When the Sun Danced: Myth, Miracles and Modernity in Early Twentieth Century Portugal. University of Virginia Press, 2012.

An important detailed study of the Fatima apparitions set against the chaotic background of Portugal during the first republic, and the battles between the anti-clerical republicans and the Catholic Church, to be followed by Fatima’s promotion by the deeply pious dictator Antonio Salazar. Bennett also examines the lives and backgrounds of the visionaries. While much of this is insightful, it is marred by a fair dollop of now distinctly old-fashioned Freudianism. Despite this there is much that should be of interest to Magonia readers

Sean Casteel. Mad Mollie: One Woman’s Bout with Possession, Clairvoyance, Multiple Personalities and Uncanny Predictions. Global Communications, 2014 (Rev. edition)

Despite the crediting of Sean Casteel as the author of this book, the bulk of its contents are a reproduction, without authorial attribution of Abram H Dailey’s “Millie Fancher the Brooklyn enigma first published privately in c 1891. The despite this the reproduction of the rare original is to be welcomed and can be read in conjunction with Michelle Stacey’s The Fasting Girl reviewed here:

Diane Goldstein, Sylvia Ann Grider and Jeannie Banks Thomas. Haunting Experiences: Ghosts in Contemporary Folklore. Utah State University Press, 2007

Elizabeth Tucker. Haunted Halls: Ghostlore of American College Campuses. University Press of Mississippi, 2007.

These two books , published nearly ten years ago but only just come to our attention are evidence of the growing academic in interest in ghost stories, in these cases from folklorists. Goldstein et al is an interesting collection of essays covering various aspects of ghosts and ghostlore in contemporary folklore, which ranges from discussions of how ghost stories can provide information on environment, geography and history, through a critical account of the evolutionary view of folklore, which portrays folklore as survivals from a primitive age, differences between the ghosts of fiction and memorates, gender in ghost stories, children’s’ ghost stories and commodification of ghost and other folklore

Elizabeth Tucker’s volume concentrates on a single, apparently narrow, topic, America’s college halls of residence and the ghost-lore attached to them. Tucker sees the stories as containing inner messages to do with maturation, the problems of young people away from home often for the first considerable time, and warnings of dangers faced by the young away from home. Halls of residence are seen as liminal places, homes that are also public places, she notes the liminal character of places such as bathrooms, attics and basements, and that universities are liminal places where adolescents undergo rituals that lead them to adulthood. It would be interesting to see such a study conducted in the United Kingdom.

Nicola J Holt, Christine Simmons-Moore, David Luke and Christopher C French. Anomalistic Psychology. Palgrave-Macmillan. 2012 (Palgrave Insights in Psychology)

A textbook aimed at A level students, those preparing for undergraduate courses and undergraduates studying anomalistic psychology and parapsychology, this book provides an excellent neutral round up of the topics, very largely accessible to the non-specialist. There are three main sections; on explanations for anomalous experiences; theoretical and methodological issues in parapsychology (dealing with issues surrounding experiments and their interpretation) and the demarcation between science and pseudoscience.

Magonia readers might be most interested in the third section which deals with specific examples of anomalous experiences; ghosts and apparitions, out of the body and near death experiences, and mediumship. There is an extensive bibliography. Hopefully this book will inspire young people to take up these topics.

Harvey J Irwin. The Psychology of Paranormal Belief: A Researcher’s Handbook. University of Hertfordshire, 2009.

A survey of social surveys of belief in the paranormal, examining various hypotheses as to the types of people likely to express them. Two chapters look at the role of culture and society and of individual psychology in the prevalence of such beliefs. Irwin then examines four models which purport to explain paranormal belief; the social marginality hypothesis, the worldview hypothesis, the cognitive deficit hypothesis and the psychodynamic functions hypothesis, before suggesting his own integrated approach. This is a dense academic work which should be of interest to students and researchers in the fields of parapsychology, anomalistic psychology and wider fields of psychology and sociology.

No comments: