Discussion:
1692 book: "The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies"
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Lenona
2021-09-04 18:42:38 UTC
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I stumbled on it in eBay. It's short. The library copy I found was non-circulating, so I'll have to find another copy.

The author was...Robert Kirk, a Scottish minister!

Full title:
The Secret Commonwealth: An Essay of the Nature and Actions of the Subterranean (and, for the Most Part) Invisible People, Heretofore Going under the Name of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kirk_(folklorist)

From Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/572121.The_Secret_Commonwealth

"Kirk is a magnificent dish to set before any student of either folk-lore or folk-psychology." — Times Literary Supplement

In the late 17th century, a Scottish minister went looking for supernatural creatures of "a middle nature betwixt man and angel." Robert Kirk roamed the Highlands, talking to his parishioners and other country folk about their encounters with fairies, wraiths, elves, doppelgangers, and other agents of the spirit world. Magic was a part of everyday life for Kirk and his fellow Highlanders, and this remarkable book offers rare glimpses into their enchanted realm.

Left in manuscript form upon the author's death in 1692, this volume was first published in 1815 at the behest of Sir Walter Scott. In 1893, the distinguished folklorist Andrew Lang re-edited the work. Lang's introduction to Kirk's extraordinary blend of science, religion, and superstition is included in this edition. For many years, The Secret Commonwealth was hard to find — available, if at all, only in scholarly editions. Academicians as well as lovers of myths and legends will prize this authoritative but inexpensive edition. (less)

And, "Becky" says:

"Kirk, a parson, wrote this book basically defending the belief in fairies, charms, and second sight that his parishioners had. He wanted to argue that you could be a good Christian and also believe in these kinds of other-world elements that were so pervasive in his community. He describes some of these beliefs and offers examples of specific instances and offers biblical references to back up his position (although some were a bit of a stretch).

"It's VERY interesting and is considered to be a must for students of folklore.

"The version I read was edited from the original manuscript by Stewart Sanderson. According to him, the version edited by Lang (which is the more famous and readily available one) has some problems where Lang made some assumptions that maybe he shouldn't have made. Do with that what you will."
David Duffy
2021-09-05 05:38:17 UTC
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Post by Lenona
I stumbled on it in eBay. It's short. The library copy I found was non-circulating, so I'll have to find another copy.
The author was...Robert Kirk, a Scottish minister!
The Secret Commonwealth: An Essay of the Nature and Actions of the
Subterranean (and, for the Most Part) Invisible People, Heretofore Going
under the Name of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies.
Sir Walter Scott was a great fan, and discusses it in the appendices to _Rob Roy_,
IIRC (I am too lazy to go and check).

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