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Author: Aldous Huxley
ISBN13: 978-0141390574
Title: Devils of Loudun (Penguin Classics)
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Language: English
Category: True Crime
Publisher: Penguin Group USA (October 1, 2001)
Pages: 376

Devils of Loudun (Penguin Classics) by Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley (1894–1963). The Devils of Loudun. Aldous Huxley was born on 26 July 1894 near Godalming, Surrey. He began writing poetry and short stories in his early twenties, but it was his first novel Crome Yellow (1921), which established his literary reputation. This was swiftly followed by Antic Hay (1923), Those Barren Leaves (1925) and Point Counter Point (1928) – bright, brilliant satires of contemporary society. For most of the 1920s Huxley lived in Italy but in the 1930s he moved to Sanary, near Toulon

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The Devils of Loudun is a 1952 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 seventeenth-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.

The Devils Of Loudun. Imprint: Vintage Classics. Published: 07/04/2005. Huxley has reconstructed with skill, learning and horror one of the most appalling incidents in the history of witch-hunting during its seventeenth-century heyday. lt;i The Devils of Loudun

The Devils of Loudun (Paperback). Published October 28th 1971 by Penguin Books Limited. Paperback, 329 pages. Author(s): Aldous Huxley. ISBN: 0140032061 (ISBN13: 9780140032062). Published 1992 by Book-of-the-Month Club. The Devils of Loudun: A True Story of Demonic Possession (Paperback). Published July 28th 2009 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics. Paperback, 368 pages.

Free download ebook Devils of Loudun (Penguin Classics) for tablet - FB Reader. More about the author(s): Aldous Huxley was born in 1894. Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited.

Are you sure you want to remove The devils of Loudun from your list? About the Book. In 1634 Urbain Grandier, a handsome and dissolute priest of the parish of Loudun was tried, tortured and burnt at the stake. October 2001, Penguin USA (P). Devils of Loudun (Penguin Classics).

The Devils of Loudun Aldous Huxley. CHAPTER I. IT was in 1605 that Joseph Hall, the satirist and future bishop, made his first visit to Flanders. Along our way how many churches saw we demolished, nothing left but rude heaps to tell the passenger, there hath been both devotion and hostility. Oh, the miserable footsteps of war!. But (which I wondered at) churches fall, and Jesuits’ colleges rise everywhere. There is no city where these are not rearing or built

The Devils of Loudun is a 1952 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.

In 1632 an entire convent in the small French village of Loudun was apparently possessed by the devil. Then he was burned at the stake for witchcraft

Urbain Grandier, parson of the French town of Loudun, was tortured and burned at the stake in 1634. He was accused of being in league with the Devil and seducing an entire convent of nuns, in what is the most sensational case of mass possession and sexual hysteria in history.Charming, handsome, dandyish and promiscuous, as soon as Grandier arrived at Loudin it became clear that he took more than a pastoral interest in his female parishioners. His reputation of arousing extraordinary sexual passions in the townswomen spread to the Prioress of the local convent, Sister Jeanne, who became obsessed with the 'delicious monster'. Soon all the nuns were gripped by fits and convulsions, falling into frenzied orgies of lustful depravity that attracted tourists from all over France. But was Grandier really the sorcerer responsible for their possession, or was it a political frame-up from Cardinal Richelieu down, to get this arrogant, womanizing priest out of the way?
Reviews: 7
In 1634, a parish priest named Urbain Grandier was tortured to exact a confession that he’d engaged in sorcery and made a pact with the devil. There was plenty of reason to believe that Grandier was a less than virtuous fellow (e.g. that he knocked up the teenage daughter of his best friend in Loudun), but no evidence of the crimes that he was actually accused of--and that the Church insisted he cop to despite his steadfast denials. However, there was some potent circumstantial evidence in the form of a case of mass hysteria by members of a convent of Ursuline nuns that was attributed to demonic possession at the time.

Huxley tells this fascinating story in great detail. At some points, perhaps too much detail. The writing style can come across as pretentious, needlessly complicated, and slow moving at times. (For example, there are frequent quotes and snippets of poetry in French--and a few in Latin—and many of these were not translated to English in the edition that I read. Apparently, the assumption was that the reader would have a basic competency in these languages.) However, when it comes to the climax of the story, the book is as gripping as they come. Having been presented with great insight into Father Grandier, we know him to be a deeply flawed man. He’s like the priests and bishops of a Marquis de Sade novel, lecherous and libertine. Yet, he manages to become a sympathetic character as he shows virtue of sticking to his guns in denial of being in league with Satan long after the truth of his vices has been admitted. In essence, when juxtaposed to his inquisitors, he becomes the lesser of two evils.

I also don’t fault that Huxley delves into analysis, because there is a fascinating question at the heart of the event—one that deserves to be batted around. What made this group of nuns behave in such an un-nun-like fashion? There was writhing, foul language, wardrobe malfunctions, etc. Today, it’s impossible for a rational skeptic to write these events off as demonic possession. However, while the Mother Superior, Sister Jeanne of the Angels, clearly had an axe to grind against Grandier (for issues regarding organizational leadership and not so much for womanizing the townies), that also seems unsatisfactory as a cause for these sisters to behave as they did. There have been a number of cases of pretended possession, but generally these were individuals—e.g. Martha Broissier. There seems to be some fascinating psychology at work in this case.

The book is arranged in 11 longish chapters, largely following a chronological progression of events. The edition that I have has some interesting appendices as well as a bibliography. There isn’t much in the way of graphics, but as the book reads like a novel one doesn’t expect there to be.

I’d recommend this book for those who are interested in history or psychology. It’s fascinating in both domains. While I thought the book could have been a little clearer and more concise, it’s still quite readable and the heart of the story is highly engaging. I was also reading the book as a general interest reader. A scholarly reader might appreciate Huxley’s thoroughness more.
“…the Loudun epidemic was an iatrogenic disease, produced and fostered by the very physicians who were supposed to be restoring the patients to health.”

I first became aware of the madness that descended on the small town of Loudun, located just south of the Loire Valley, and a bit north of Poitier, which today has a population of 7,500, when I watched the movie The Devils, starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, in the 1970’s. I found the movie quite memorable (and disturbing!). And I recently read Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts, concerning the same elements of a “witch hunt,” occurring in the same century as the events in Loudun, on the other side of the Atlantic, in Salem, Massachusetts. Aldous Huxley states that he first read of the events at Loudun in Michelet’s "La Sorcière". Huxley was struck by the inaccuracies and the “very slap-dash” quality of the work, written by an admittedly great historian. And he figured he could do better, capturing all levels, “from the most horrible to the most sublime,” as reflected in Grandier and Surin. Huxley also relates these distant events to similar phenomena today, much as Arthur Miller did.

Urbain Grandier was a real scumbag, in the plain-spoken vernacular. He was also a Jesuit priest, and shortly after his ordination, in 1615, he was assigned to Loudun, which had almost double the population of today. He conformed, and substantially exceeded the prevailing “community standards” of the time, which Huxley states as being “…from highest prelate to humblest friar, the majority of clergymen are thoroughly disreputable.” Certainly, they could not be encumbered by the vow of chastity, and the clergymen would normally have a few women in the congregation to whom they provided more than spiritual solace (no mention of young boys!). Grandier had many more than the proverbial “few,” including the daughter of his best friend, who he got pregnant, and then denied it all: she, of course, was the “sinner.” Her baby became another’s, “legal truth” as opposed to “truth,” as Huxley sarcastically notes. Thus, Grandier accumulated a few enemies in the town. He also ran afoul of the man who would become the most powerful in France: Cardinal Richelieu.

An Ursuline convent was established in Loudun. Jeanne des Anges, age 25, dwarfish, and deformed would become the head nun. She developed a sexual obsession for Grandier, handsome as he was. Almost certainly it was unrequited. She knew some of the village women who enjoyed “requited” status. As Huxley says: “envy modulated into hatred and contempt,” or, as more famously phrased: “hell hath no wrath like a woman scorned.” Hysteria followed, and “infected” the entire convent. The convenient explanation: the nuns were possessed of devils, and such were the times, the specific names of the devils, and their location in the body could be identified. Grandier’s enemies united, including Richelieu, who knew the charges were probably not true, but he sought the greater glory of France, and a consolidation of Royal power, and besides, “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs” as Huxley says, and Grandier is a scumbag, so, he was charged with “sorcery.” Numerous individuals refused to participate in this charade, but enough did so that he would be condemned to death, tortured first, with his legs crushed upon the wheel, and burned at the stake. Huxley describes the details in “disturb-your-dreams” detail. I sensed a scrupulous attention to the facts, as detailed in court records and the many diaries of the time.

The aftermath was equally unpleasant. The three chief inquisitors met unpleasant ends, two within the year. Richelieu himself, who thought bringing back the Inquisition would be an excellent way to consolidate power and punish enemies would have a body that literally putrefied, causing a stink that others avoided and ridiculed. Jean-Joseph Surin, a coeval of Grandier, would be brought in to exorcise the demons from Jeanne des Anges. She would become famous, and the reason for “pilgrimages” to Loudun. Huxley describes her as: “she knew herself to be- half actress, half unrepentant sinner, wholly hysterical.” Her fate was also unpleasant, as would be Surin’s, who lived for a couple of decades with excruciating pains and bodily dysfunction (all psychosomatic?) and was eventually cured.

The madness of crowds. Huxley, who wrote this work in 1953, wove comparisons between Loudun and current events, particularly, but not limited to, totalitarian regimes. For example, he says: “…the Collective Will is merely the dictator’s will-to-power, sometimes mitigated, sometimes distorted to the verge of lunacy, by some pseudo-scientific theory of what, in the gorgeous future, will be good for an actuarial abstraction labeled ‘Humanity’.” Huxley concludes with a marvelous epilogue in which he discusses humanity’s urge to “self-transcendence,” via alcohol, drugs, sexuality and yes, “crowd-delirium,” “herd intoxification.” Oh, how true: “To men and women under the influence of herd-poison, ‘whatever I say three times is true’ – and whatever I say three hundred times is Revelation, is the directly inspired Word of God.”

I had to think of the substantial industry that is “airport security,” as well as those slew of “think tanks” when Huxley concluded: “If there had been no exorcists, it would never have begun.” Huxley is a thoughtful, incisive observer of the human condition. I’m glad I moved beyond Brave New World) to read at least one other of his works, which deserves 5-stars, plus.
It calls itself "a true story of demonic possession." It is equally a story of politics, of common men in dubious battle with the most powerful entities in their lives - the Catholic Church and the French government. The possession is a sideshow, a very well documented sideshow, but the players are the real story. It may be the most thoroughly documented case of possession in history.
I knew of the case from other accounts, but here we have an examination of the very human, and still very relatable, motivations that manifested within the specific environment and period. Readers come away with greater knowledge of the theories of the day as well as modern explanations of what was believed to be supernatural. The dramatic unfolding of the tragedy is at times comic in that its dogmatic insistence is so transparent even at that time. It is then redoubled after Grandiere is gone at Jeane tours Europe. The historical accuracy and clear, adroit prose make it a pleasure to read. Heartbreaking and horrific, historical, heretical and humorous, a human drama told masterfully and truthfully.
A very illuminating book of humanity; it's psychological constructs, it's intellectual and moral weaknesses and it's ability to look back upon historical passages with clearest insight. Huxley is one of the most penetrating and pertinent minds of Western Civilization these past two centuries. This book contains lessons of the the gravest importance in understanding the phenomenon of witch hunts, irrational persecution and historical contexts that put the not-so-distant past upon the doorstep of some of today's mentality with unnerving realizations.