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Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande


DR. E. E. EVANS-PRITCHARD, already well known in anthropological circles for some penetrating studies of the manners, customs and mental constitution of certain peoples of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, has by this book placed himself in the front rank of British anthropologists. Europeans who have visited primitive people have always been attracted by the notions which they think they have found concerning witchcraft, oracles and magic; but most of them have attempted to interpret these notions mainly in the light of their own, or what they consider to be their own, habits of thought. Consequently, these topics have been treated as if their main interest lay in their curiosity, their oddity; and not infrequently they have been taken to indicate that there is some sort of primitive logic exceedingly different from that of the Western world. Dr. Evans-Pritchard is no mere curiosity hunter; he realizes that many of the Azande notions about witchcraft, and the ways in which the people use them, are not far removed from some of our own current ideas and practices about medicine and the chances of life; and he knows perfectly well that though his book is entirely concerned with witches, witch-doctors, magicians and sorcerers, it covers only a very small part of Azande activity: "Most of their talk is common-sense talk, and their references to witchcraft, whilst frequent enough, bear no comparison in volume to their talk about other matters".

Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande

By Dr. E. E. Evans-Pritchard. Pp. xxx + 558 + 34 plates. (Oxford: Clarendon Press; London: Oxford University Press, 1937.) 21s. net.

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BARTLETT, F. Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande. Nature 140, 338–340 (1937).

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