In Urbain Grandier, a handsome and dissolute priest of the parish of Loudun was tried, tortured and burnt at the stake. He had been found guilty of conspiring with the devil to seduce an entire convent of nuns. Grandier maintained his innocence to the end but four years after his death the nuns were still being subjected to exorcisms to free them from their demonic bondage. Huxley's vivid account of this bizarre tale of religious and sexual obsession transforms our understanding of the medieval world. The Devils of Loudun is fascinating, erudite, and instinct with intellectual vitality". In telling the grotesque, bawdy and true story of a 17th-century convent of cloistered French nuns who contrived to have a priest they never met burned alive
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The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley. In Urbain Grandier, a handsome and dissolute priest of the parish of Loudun was tried, tortured and burnt at the stake. He had been found guilty of conspiring with the devil to seduce an entire convent of nuns in what was the most sensational case of mass possession and sexual hysteria in history.
Grandier maintained his innocence to the end and four years after his d In Urbain Grandier, a handsome and dissolute priest of the parish of Loudun was tried, tortured and burnt at the stake. Grandier maintained his innocence to the end and four years after his death the nuns were still being subjected to exorcisms to free them from their demonic bondage.
Huxley's vivid account of this bizarre tale of religious and sexual obsession transforms our understanding of the medieval world.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published April 7th by Vintage Classics first published More Details Original Title. Urbain Grandier. Loudun , France. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Devils of Loudun , please sign up. Is there a translation that includes notes for the French and German passages?
There are substantial passages in French that are beyond me and the German vocabulary is extraordinary in the context of a novel. I've read many historical novels, but none like this. Chapter 3 is a lecture on 17th century French philosophy and includes references to William James.
Its wild. It is very clear and most passages are translated. It is not a novel, though. It is an essay on a real story from the Seventeenth Century, and Huxley is not the only one who wrote about it. This explains the chapters about mistycism, and the Appendix. Maybe the edition I read is difficult to find in America. I borrowed it from the library in Galway, Ireland See 2 questions about The Devils of Loudun…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3.
Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Devils of Loudun. This is probably one of the most interesting and important books I've ever read.
Let me say first that in spite of the tag-line it actually has almost nothing to do with devils, or "demon possession" as such. It's lamentable for several reasons. One is simply that it misrepresents the book. I mean, if you're looking for something that deals with actual demon possession, or a piece of lurid fiction dealing wi This is probably one of the most interesting and important books I've ever read. I mean, if you're looking for something that deals with actual demon possession, or a piece of lurid fiction dealing with similar subject matter, this book probably isn't what you're looking for.
And, if you're NOT interested in demon possession, the tag-line will keep you from reading the book. But I think the worst thing about it is that sales need to be boosted to begin with. This is a book that should be read. I mean, it's too bad more people haven't read or even heard of it.
It deals with actual events, that's true. It also deals with an alleged case of demon possession: that is also true. But it's not what it sounds like. A certain corrupt priest Urbain Grandier offended some people in high places, and ultimately he was accused of witchcraft and blamed for the "possession" of a convent full of Ursuline nuns.
The possession was more likely hysteria. The sorcery charge was bunk, and most of the people involved understood this to be the case. So, on the face of it, the book is about the disastrous mix of Church and State in early 17th Century France. But that's not really what it's about, either. I mean, to bill it as a history book or a book about politics would be equally misguided.
Huxley uses this particular episode from history as an entry into a larger discussion about spiritual life. What is spirituality? What motivates it? He calls it self-transendence, and offers an in-depth discussion of some of the principles that are common to most religions. Not the simple stuff: I mean, it's not like he's just saying "most religions say that murder is wrong. He discounts nothing. It's interesting, because at times he makes ironic or even sarcastic comments, and that's normally the refuge of a weaker writer, a writer who sneers at the world, dismisses the very idea of demon possession or even plain old spirituality as quaint fantasy.
Huxley isn't dismissive. He cites well documented psychic phenomena ESP, for example as evidence of a world beyond the strictly physical world as we understand it. If it's possible that the human mind can tap into another mind, then those minds must share something on some non-physical level.
One can not, therefore, rule out the possibility that a will or an intellect can exist on a non-physical level. There is no reason to believe that all such wills that all "entities" existing outside the physical world as we know it are well meaning and nice. Whether or not they're "demons" proper is sort of beside the point.
In case you're thinking this is all sort of dark, I should mention that he spends a lot of time emphasizing the positive what he calls Original Virtue, rather than Original Sin. Original Sin he defines in terms of the human capacity for evil, Original Virtue, our capacity for good.
In case you're thinking this is all sort of flaky, I should mention that he also devotes considerable attention to psychology and psychiatry, as well. It's not as though he buys the idea of a spritual world without first exploring the possibility that some spiritual experiences are actually manifestations of mental disorders. He also devotes considerable attention to matters of law, doctrine, et cetera. At any rate, I'm not doing the book justice. There was no point at which I felt as though I was in the midst of a load of spooky b.
It's never less than well researched and well reasoned. And it's sort of about everything. Politics, religion, spirituality, psychology, philosophy, history, society, art, justice, responsibility, sexuality, nature: everything. And it's all framed by this fascinating story about this priest and this convent and the political and personal intrigues that came together surrounding them.
The Devils of Loudun was first published in , I think, and when I finished reading it, I thought about all the stuff I read in school, the critical theory that's come out of the academic community and the religious and political discourse that's come out since , and I just felt like something had gone terribly wrong.
That all that discourse is so pinheaded and narrow-minded. That there was this flash of intelligent thinking about the world in this book, and that somehow it's been neglected, that the conversation went in some other direction, and we've been in darkness ever since. Maybe I just haven't read enough. Probably I haven't read enough. But I've read a lot, and I've never run into anything quite like this before.
It's brilliant. I cannot recommend it more highly.
A Mania for All Seasons: The Continuing Importance of ‘The Devils of Loudun’
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The Devils of Loudun
There are many people for whom hate and rage pay a higher dividend of immediate satisfaction than love. Huxley composed this passage to shed light on the mind of a thoroughly unlikeable individual by the name and title of Father Urban Grandier, in particular. But he also offered it as a more general analysis of the mindset afflicting those who burned Grandier to death—with the approval of both the Catholic Church and the State of France—for being a sorcerer in In the context of the entire work, this passage was part of a close inspection of the susceptibility of humanity to moral panics, show-trials, and mob justice across the ages.
The Devils of Loudun is a non-fiction novel by Aldous Huxley. It is a historical narrative of supposed demonic possession , religious fanaticism , sexual repression , and mass hysteria that occurred in 17th-century France surrounding unexplained events that took place in the small town of Loudun. It centers on Roman Catholic priest Urbain Grandier and an entire convent of Ursuline nuns , who allegedly became possessed by demons after Grandier made a pact with Satan. The events led to several public exorcisms as well as executions by burning.