Pursuing special experiences that take them to the brink of permanent madness or death, men and women in every age have "returned" to heal and comfort their fellow human beings--and these shamans have fascinated students of society from Herodotus to Mircea Eliade. Gloria Flaherty's book is about the first Western encounters with shamanic peoples and practices. Flaherty makes us see the eighteenth century as an age in which explorers were fascinating all Europe with tales of shamans who accomplished a "self-induced cure for a self-induced fit." Reports from what must have seemed a forbidden world of strange rites and moral licentiousness came from botanists, geographers, missionaries, and other travelers of the period, and these accounts created such a stir that they permeated caf talk, journal articles, and learned debates, giving rise to plays, encyclopedia articles, art, and operas about shamanism. The first part of the book describes in rich detail how information about shamanism entered the intellectual mainstream of the eighteenth century. In the second part Flaherty analyzes the artistic and critical implications of that process. In so doing, she offers remarkable chapters on Diderot, Herder, Goethe, and the cult of the genius of Mozart, as well as a chapter devoted to a new reading of Goethe's Faust that views Faust as the modern shaman.
Originally published in 1992.
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Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations
Pt. 1 From Fables to Facts: The European Reception of Shamanism
Ch. 1 The Paradigm of Permissibility, or, Early Reporting Strategies 21
Ch. 2 Eighteenth-Century Observations from the Field 43
Ch. 3 Interaction, Transformation, and Extinction 67
Ch. 4 Shamanism among the Medical Researchers 97
Pt. 2 Back to Fictions and Fantasies: The Implications of Shamanism for the Arts in Europe
Ch. 5 The Impact of Russia on Diderot and Le neveu de Rameau 117
Ch. 6 Herder on the Artist as the Shaman of Western Civilization 132
Ch. 7 Mozart, or, Orpheus Reborn 150
Ch. 8 Shamans Failed and Successful in Goethe 166
Ch. 9 Faust, the Modern Shaman 183
Afterword: Toward a Shamanology 208
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Gloria Flaherty: