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Rough BeastsThe Monstrous in Irish Fiction, 1800-2000$
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Jack Fennell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620344

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620344.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 05 May 2021

From Lore to Law

From Lore to Law

Malevolent Magic and Spiritual Warfare

Chapter:
(p.75) Chapter Four From Lore to Law
Source:
Rough Beasts
Author(s):

Jack Fennell

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789620344.003.0004

This chapter considers the tension between magic and law: when legal structures are assumed (correctly or incorrectly) to safeguard the rights of individual citizens and punish transgressors against the common good, magic-users become ‘monsters’ for their ability to do harm at a distance, anonymously and without accountability. Beginning with an outline of the transitional moment in Irish history where scientific legal codes started to supplant the de facto belief in folk magic, this chapter looks at ‘spiritual warfare’ narratives and conspiracy tales alike to discuss how malevolent witches, wizards and sorcerers disrupt established norms of legitimacy and authority. The works considered here range from 19th-century depictions of witches as heroic figures standing up to bullying clerics, to 20th-century texts where the magically-inclined are ignorant throwbacks at best and sinister cultists at worst.

Keywords:   witchcraft, law, power, legitimacy, conspiracy

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