Books I’m not reading

Human nature is perverse. At a time when I am spending lots of days home and can read to my heart’s content, I just can’t get into any of the classics which are on my immediate list. These three failed my 100-page test ( so let me know if you found them worthy of pushing through.

Malleus maleficarum, or The Witch’s Hammer, is the medieval manual for investigating, bringing to trial and punishing witches and sorcerers. Part theological philosophy, part legal treatise, makes the opening pages difficult for the casual reader. Despite the historical significance and morbid curiosity of the horror behind this book, I moved on quickly. The interesting points I did get from this is that since God is the supreme power, the evil which the Devil and witches do is within His permission, and the pervading belief in an organization of witches throughout Western Europe responsible for the political poisonings and assassinations rife at that time.

The Ship of Fools by Sebastian Brand. Imagine an old-time primer for children to teach manners (bad Timmy and good Sally) now morph it into a long series of medieval verses on fools, complete with woodcut illustrations. I got a fair way into this, but decided I’d rather mow the lawn.

The Paston Letters. A selection of family and business correspondence from a well-to-do family in fifteenth century Norfolk, England. A great source of historical information which is no doubt a boon for medieval scholars. Two letters in, and I was already looking at the next title on my list. I guess other people’s family history doesn’t fascinate me.

On the upside, shifting all my titles forward a few weeks by dropping these ones brings Shakespeare just a bit closer. Now thinking I’ll be with the Bard on my birthday!

That’s all for now. I still have lawn to mow. Bye!




  1. Ot, that’s a pity about the Paston letters. I came across them recently in a history of the Yorkist kings, where the author had used them as a source and quoted from them quite extensively, and I thought it might be fun to seek them out. But probably the historian had carefully extracted all the good bits!


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