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The Gaelic Otherworld
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Cultural Studies, Folklore, Folklore & Mythology, Gaelic
Publication Date
02 May 2008
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Birlinn Limited

The Gaelic Otherworld

Rev. John Gregorson Campbellā€™s Superstitions of the Highlands and the Islands and Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
by John Gregorson Campbell - Find out more about the author
John Gregorson Campbell (1834-91), a Gaelic speaker from Appin who spent his life as minister of Tiree, was one of a number of outstanding folklorists working in Scotland during the second half of the 19th century. Based on materials which he had gathered in the 1850s and 1860s, his Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland were published posthumously in 1900 and 1902. Engagingly written in an anecdotal style, they introduce us to a galaxy of fairies, witches, ghosts and supernatural creatures, as well as general superstitions and the beliefs and rituals of the traditional calendar. Having been written as a single work, they are now reunited as one volume. The Gaelic originals of Campbell’s shorter quotes are brought out of his footnotes into the main text, and the Gaelic originals of his longer ones have been restored from previously unpublished manuscripts.
In a lively introduction, Ronald Black points to the relevance of The Gaelic Otherworld to everyday social issues in our own time. He illuminates Campbell’s work with extensive explanatory notes and a radically revised biography, supported by bibliography, maps and index. The sheer readability of Campbell’s work disguises its importance, but Black’s meticulous research and innovative analysis enable it to take its rightful place alongside Popular Tales of the West Highlands and Carmina Gadelica as a classic of world folklore.
Formerly a lecturer in Celtic in the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Ronald Black is Gaelic Editor of The Scotsman and a columnist in the West Highland Free Press. As well as various anthologies and studies of 18th- and 20th-century Gaelic verse, he has edited Birlinn’s edition of Johnson’s Journey to the Western Islands and Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides published as To the Hebrides.