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Response to Review no. 177

Robert Walinski-Kiehl has given a very useful survey of Del Rio’s place in and importance to the tradition of demonological writing, and I have nothing to add to this, the main part of his review. There are, however, three points I should like to add, two of which relate directly to regrets (rather than criticisms) expressed by him.

First, the provision of an edited rather than a complete translation. Walinski-Kiehl is quite right in suggesting that the publication costs of producing a huge work would themselves have been immense. I did suggest such a project in my initial discussions with Manchester, but commercial reality set in quite quickly. In consequence, I was forced to select and my ‘Introduction’ does say that this will entail disappointing some of my readers. I can only repeat what James Murray, first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, said to critical delegates of the Press: ‘On such points, no two men will ever spontaneously see alike. I do not expect that my treatment…. will strike other people as that which they would have adopted…. The most that can be expected is “this is not an unreasonable way of exhibiting the facts”‘. The price of the hardback edition of the book even as it stands is, unfortunately, prohibitive, as several of my students have already pointed out, and perhaps here one might put in a general plea to publishers to consider issuing more books in paperback to accommodate the pockets of private buyers, (as opposed to supposedly wealthy institutions). A case in point is the ridiculous cost of the hardback edition of Stuart Clark’s Thinking With Demons, an important book if ever there was one, which has a very wide potential readership and ought not to have had any unnecessary bar on their buying it. What well-heeled √©lite did Oxford think it was aiming at before it produced a paperback edition?

Secondly, I quite agree with Walinski-Kiehl’s point that my resumes of Del Rio’s text needed to be distinguished from my translations by the use of a different type-face. I can only say that the two were thus clearly differentiated in my original typescript.

Thirdly, I mentioned in my ‘Introduction’ that Del Rio needs a modern biographer. He was a remarkably distinguished scholar in his time and in view of his major contribution to demonological studies alone, he should receive closer scrutiny from a modern historian. The Disquisitiones Magicae, too, repay closer investigation. Del Rio added to his original edition quite substantially and continued to do so until his death. The nature and extent of those additions are interesting in themselves as well as contributing to a further understanding of the contemporary battle the Church was fighting against witches on the one hand and heretics on the other. One or two of my footnotes have pointed out the way in which the Latin vocabulary Del Rio chose to use at a particular point influences the sub-text of a passage, and a proper study of the Latin texts of demonologists in general has not been done but would illuminate both their thought-processes and the impact their works were intended to have on their readers. In addition, an examination of Del Rio’s methods of quotation and use of earlier authorities would throw further light on the intellectual milieu that formed him and other early modern scholars. There are dose parallels between Del Rio’s modus operandi, for example, and that of Pliny the Elder, which suggest a long intellectual tradition of citation and reference. Some of these lines of investigation I am already pursuing.

Finally, my thanks to Walinski-Kiehl for describing my translation as ‘lucid and elegant’. If I have managed that, I have done Del Rio a service his fascinatingly diverse text thoroughly deserves.