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The Call of the Trance

The Call of the Trance is a magnificent book that takes us to the unchartered frontiers of the forbidden. From initiation ceremonies to crises of hysteria, from suicide attempts to the ecstasies of witches, Catherine Clément explores in simple but scholarly terms the responses that civilizations have offered to the humanistic need for escape from the body. These “eclipses” from life and reality, pursued by people across cultures, are elusive and invariably inexpressible.

Clément details this phenomenon through the past and the present, from the witches of Loudun to current Mongolian shamans and from the eighteenth-century convulsionaries of Saint-Médard to Greeks of today, who follow in the footsteps of their earlier practices. Along the way, she questions the countless ways humans push back the limits of the mind and body, and she shows how, from Dionysian antiquity to our own day, the ecstasy of the trance state shows up in anorexia, rock music, rap, sexual reassignment, eroticism, and even Twilight-style vampire stories.

184 pages | 5 x 8 1/2 | © 2014

The French List

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Psychology: General Psychology

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“Scholarly readers will savor the book’s rich panoply of anecdotes, gleaned from medieval romances, modern American vampire sagas, and everywhere in between. It is this colorfully rendered catalog of trance-related events and conditions that such readers will find of greatest use. . . . Leaving the reader with a desire for more – this is a hallmark of a truly effective book. Clement’s is clearly a valuable contribution to the study of human consciousness and one of its alternatives. I recommend it highly.”

Fredericka A. Schmadel, Journal of Folklore Research

Table of Contents


Changing Life

1. The Coup de foudre

2. Three Drops of Blood

3. Filth

4. Rutting Reindeer

5. Cats on the End of Branches (Poitou-Charentes)

6. A-e-i-o-u (Paris and Outreau, Northern France)

7. The Little Animal

8. Dracula’s Daughters (Ireland; USA)

9. The Tarantati of Apulia (Southern Italy)

10. The Bellower (The Loire)

11. Madonna Oriente and the Animal of Ecstasy

12. Trans

13. (USA; Canada)

14. When the Body Goes into Eclipse Instead of the Mind

15. Gateways to the Body

16. The Disciplines of Fear

The Art of the New

Bibliographical Note

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