Books in the Wild
About This Show
Books in the Wild is a podcast investigating the hidden stories behind books and printed matter. Instead of reviewing books for solely on their written content, we try to offer varying perspectives on everything from conception to creation to reception. This is a podcast about book arts: letterpress printing, bookbinding, artists' books, small press and independent publishing, and stories from book history.
Most Recent Episode
Episode 9: A Guide to Witch Hunting - The Malleus Maleficarum
Now that we are in October, we are getting into the Halloween spirit by talking about an infamous book called The Malleus Maleficarum, also known as The Hammer of Witches. A book responsible for fueling the heinous witch trials throughout medieval Europe for centuries.
We delve into book history and talk about the author and inquisitor Heinrich Kramer. Then we have a fantastic interview with rare books librarian Karen Wahl about her research on the printing developments of the Malleus Maleficarum, and a talk with writer and translator Valarie Williams about an 20th century supernatural scholar named Montague Summers.
For this episode, what I originally thought would be a fun witchy romp through book history, ended up being a little heavy, more than a little misogynistic, and a lot uncomfortable. So, I won't be getting into the gory details about the European witch trials on this podcast, but choosing to mainly focus on the Malleus Maleficarum itself and its author. There are plenty of gory details about the witch trials out there that you can easily find, trust me. Instead, I want to emphasize how powerful a book can be, for better or worse. The Malleus Maleficarum is after all, probably the most widely printed and bestselling book after the bible. It was the go-to witch hunting manual for centuries, and single-handedly altered the lore of witches forever.
Disclaimer: Although this a very tame version of the European Witch Trials and this episode is still very much safe for work and not explicit, there is some material that may be uncomfortable for very sensitive ears - I do mention parts of the human anatomy and talk about the inquisition of witches.