The Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia

Paperback | June 21, 1999

byW. F. Ryan

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The title of this book refers to the classic time and place for magic, witchcraft, and divination in Russia. The Bathhouse at Midnight, by one of the world's foremost experts on the subject, surveys all forms of magic, both learned and popular, in Russia from the fifth to the eighteenth century. While no book on the subject could be exhaustive, The Bathhouse at Midnight does describe and assess all the literary sources of magic, witchcraft, astrology, alchemy, and divination from Kiev Rus and Imperial Russia, and to some extent Ukraine and Belorussia. Where possible, Ryan identifies the sources of the texts (usually Greek, Arabic, or West European) and makes parallels to other cultures, ranging from classical antiquity to Finnic. He finds that Russia shares most of its magic and divination with the rest of Europe.

Subjects covered include the Evil Eye, the Number of the Beast, omens, dreams, talismans and amulets, plants, gemstones, and other materials thought to possess magic properties. The first chapter gives a historical overview, and the final chapter summarizes the political, religious, and legal aspects of the history of magic in Russia. The author also provides translations of some key texts.

The Bathhouse at Midnight will be invaluable for anyone—student, teacher, or general reader—with an interest in Russia, magic, or the occult. It is unique in its field and is set to become the definitive study of Russian magic.

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From the Publisher

The title of this book refers to the classic time and place for magic, witchcraft, and divination in Russia. The Bathhouse at Midnight, by one of the world's foremost experts on the subject, surveys all forms of magic, both learned and popular, in Russia from the fifth to the eighteenth century. While no book on the subject could be ex...

W. F. Ryan is academic librarian of the Warburg Institute at the University of London, School of Advanced Studies. He has published widely on the subject of magic in Russia and is co-author of the Penguin Russian Dictionary (1995) and co-editor of numerous scholarly books, including Anglo-Russian Relations in the Age of Peter the Great...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:512 pages, 9.18 × 1.43 × 1.44 inPublished:June 21, 1999Publisher:Penn State University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271019670

ISBN - 13:9780271019673

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The Bathhouse at Midnight remains, nonetheless, an outstanding compilation of magic and its associated beliefs in Russia, as well as their relations to Western forms.”

—Jennifer B. Spock, The Historian