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Literacy, Magic and 'Superstition' in Nineteenth-Century Wales: The Example of DIC Aberdaron

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Richard Robert Jones (1780–1843), alias Dic Aberdaron, was something of a paradox. Highly regarded by some as an extremely talented linguist who was fluent in a reported thirty-five languages, yet he was severely derided by others as nothing more than an illiterate wanderer with a reputation for witchcraft and conjuration. This article considers this ambiguity by exploring the relationship between witchcraft, magical beliefs and literacy in nineteenthcentury Welsh society, and how such beliefs as well as notions of 'superstition' helped shape perceptions of literacy. Could Dic really conjure spirits and, if so, what effect did this have on his reputation as a linguist and literary figure? By examining the controversy surrounding Richard Robert Jones, this article aims to highlight the close relationship between magical beliefs and literacy, offering a better understanding of the power of literacy within its relevant fields of magic, witchcraft and 'superstition'.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2013

More about this publication?
  • Published by the University of Wales Press since its inception in 1960, The Welsh History Review / Cylchgrawn Hanes Cymru is the most authoritative journal in its field. This twice-yearly journal is committed to publishing research on Welsh history, from medieval to modern. The internationally-renowned editorial board includes scholars from universities in Wales, the UK, Europe and the United States, whose collective breadth of knowledge contributes to a diverse range of cultural, social, political and economic history.

    Cyhoeddwyd The Welsh History Review / Cylchgrawn Hanes Cymru gan Wasg Prifysgol Cymru ers sefydlu'r cyfnodolyn yn 1960. Hwn yw'r cyfnodolyn mwyaf awdurdodol yn ei faes, a'i brif hanfod yw arddangos amrywiaeth eang o feysydd ymchwil ym maes hanes Cymru, o'r canoloesol hyd at y modern. Ar y bwrdd golygyddol, ceir ysgolheigion o brifysgolion Cymru, y Deyrnas Unedig, Ewrop a'r Unol Daleithiau. Adlewyrchir arbenigeddau'r bwrdd yng nghynnwys y cyfnodolyn, sydd yn ymdrin â hanes diwylliannol, cymdeithasol, gwleidyddol ac economaidd.

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