An exploration of werewolf beliefs and legends from Classical Antiquity to the post-medieval period
• Examines werewolf tales and stories from early Greece, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Eastern Europe, China, and Japan, as well as legends of other shapeshifting creatures such as were-tigers, were-jackals, and were-caribou
• Looks at the various ways people become werewolves, including pacts with the devil, magic, and spells, and explores ways to identify, escape, and do away with werewolves
• Includes the trial records from medieval Europe for individuals who were tried on suspicion of being werewolves and the personal records of people whose spouses could shapeshift into wolves
An animal both mythical and real, a terrifying predator and the villain in many a fairytale, the wolf has haunted the human imagination since prehistoric times. Even more disturbing is the possibility that some individuals can change into wolves. These werewolves, or lycanthropes, are able to divest themselves of their human nature and transform into enemies that are all the more dangerous as no one knows who they are. Means of protecting oneself from this beast have been a concern for people since Classical Antiquity, and werewolf legends offer both fascinating tales of horror as well as advice for thwarting these creatures or breaking the werewolf curse.
In this exploration of werewolf folktales, legends, and historical accounts, Claude Lecouteux examines werewolf beliefs and stories from early Greece to the post-medieval age, including the beliefs of the Norse and tales from France, Germany, Eastern Europe, China, and Japan. The author includes the trial records from medieval Europe for individuals who were tried on suspicion of being werewolves and the personal records of people whose spouses could shapeshift into wolves. He investigates the nature of the werewolf, how it can act as the double or lead to out-of-body experiences, and its counterparts in other parts of the world such as were-tigers, were-jackals, and even were-caribou in the Inuit regions of North America. Lecouteux also looks at the various ways people become werewolves, including pacts with the devil and spells, and explores ways to identify, escape, and do away with werewolves. Sharing werewolf mysteries from around the world, Lecouteux shows that by studying the legends of the werewolf we also gain insight into the psyche and ancient imagination of humanity.