The Transformation of Sabbath Rituals by Jean Crépy and Laurent Bordelon: Redirecting Emotion through Ridicule
This chapter explores how witchcraft beliefs in the early eighteenth century often succumbed to growing scepticism and increasingly became objects of parody and ridicule. It focuses on an etching of the French printmaker Jean Crépy, appended to a 1710 satiric novel by the Parisian author, Laurent Bordelon, The Story of the Extravagant Imaginations of Monsieur Oufle. Crépy redirected the disgust and fear that dances at Sabbath rituals previously aroused, by parodying an influential etching created a century earlier by the Polish artist Jan Ziarnko. He transformed Ziarnko’s lascivious and threatening dancers into somersaulting acrobats, and thereby attempted to persuade readers that Sabbath rituals were simply foolish delusions created in the imagination of people like Monsieur Oufle, his name an anagram for le fou, a fool.