Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Nifty Old Book

I like old-book hunting. Every now and then you find a gem, like this one here, whose find I briefly report here in the seasonal spirit: Marion L. Starkey's The Devil in Massachusetts, Time Inc. Book Division, New York (1963).  This book I discovered and purchased is the 1963 republishing of M.L. Starkey's 1949 historical piece based on court transcripts of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. To make the package even more delectable, it comes with an introduction by Aldous Huxley.  This was quite a find, and its condition was definitely not poor; the book, I can tell, has never been read, probably never even cracked open, for 51 years.  Huxley's introduction is refreshing, considering that he makes no bones whatsoever about the paradigm shift with respect to the "wholly evil," that it is the force, the authority, which has perpetuated witch-hunts throughout the centuries.


From M.L. Starkey's introduction:

"It's bad business meddling with the devil; it makes you superstitious. I find myself impelled to report that the very hour I began my formal research ... a small hurricane came through my open window, wrecked the room, brought every tree in the yard crashing against the house, and toppled the steeple of the East Saugus Community Church, visible in the lightning beyond my window. Then again, the evening of the day I finally shipped off this manuscript, there came a plague of lightning, continuous and directly overhead, striking neighbors' houses but missing mine."