Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
The Secret Commonwealth (Paperback)of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies
by Robert Kirk, introduction by Marina Warner
First published in 1815 by Sir Walter Scott, then reedited in 1893 by Andrew Lang, with a dedication to Robert Louis Stevenson, The Secret Commonwealth has long been difficult to obtain—available, if at all, only in scholarly editions. This new edition modernizes the spelling and punctuation of Kirk’s little book and features a wide-ranging and illuminating introduction by the critic and historian Marina Warner, who brings out the originality of Kirk’s contribution and reflects on the ongoing life of fairies in the modern mind.
Kirk treats the land of faery as a mere fact in nature, a world with its own laws, which he investigates without fear of the Accuser of the Brethren. We may thus regard him as an early student in the folk-lore of psychical research.
Kirk is a magnificent dish to set before any student of either folk-lore or folk-psychology.
— Times Literary Supplement
A slim quarto-size book (like a paperback novel in boards) and less than a hundred pages of text, this New York Review of Books edition is the first in more than a century and contains a well-written introduction and end notes by Marina Warner. Also included is Kirk's own glossary of "difficult words," in which we learn the 17th-century meanings of adscititious, defaecat, lychnobious and noctambulo.
— The Philadelphia Inquirer
Kirk's "Secret Commonwealth" is one of those books which are well known but hard to come by...His little treatise is a most careful and thorough piece of work, made the more so by the spirit in which it was written...The result is one of the completest descriptions extant of that special phase of popular belief.
— The Times Literary Supplement