Into the Dark Night and Back: The Mystical Writings of Jean-Joseph Surin


The French mystic Jean-Joseph Surin (1600–65) was the chief exorcist during the infamous demonic possession in Loudun in 1634–37. During the exorcism, a demon entered Surin’s own soul, and the exorcist became demoniac. He spent the following eighteen years of his life mute and paralyzed. All the while his troubled mind conversed with God, and he composed hymns and poems that tried to comprehend his agony. Surin left detailed descriptions of the dramatic events that shaped his life and fascinated his fellow Jesuits. But Surin was also an author of spiritual texts, a spiritual director of souls, a poet, and a prolific correspondent. This volume is the first to offer English readers a comprehensive selection of Surin’s mystical writings.

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Moshe Sluhovsky is the Paulette and Claude Kelman Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His books include “Believe not Every Spirit": Demonic Possession, Mysticism, and Discernment in Early Modern Catholicism and Becoming a New Self: Practices of Belief in Early Modern Catholicism.
Known internationally for her translations of Fernand Braudel and Philippe Ariès, Patricia M. Ranum subsequently translated, edited and presented several seventeenth-century sources, among them the travel account of a Jansenist priest called Charles Le Maistre; the Spiritual Doctrine of Louis Lallemant, a Jesuit; and the memoirs of Jean Le Boindre, a judge in the Paris parlement.
“a remarkable achievement which deserves a place on many graduate and even undergraduate reading lists.”
Jan Machielsen, Cardiff University. In: H-France Review, Vol. 19 (August 2019), No. 155.

“This work is a substantial scholarly anthology of writings by Jean-Joseph Surin (1600–65), a French Jesuit, spiritual director, and mystic, known for his exorcism of Jeanne des Anges during the infamous Loudun possessions. Edited by Moshe Sluhovsky, a historian of early modern mysticism, and translated into English by Patricia Ranum […] this work makes accessible for anglophone scholars the life and thought of a deeply enigmatic figure.”
Virginia Krause, Brown University. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 2 (Summer 2021), pp. 672–673.

Moshe Sluhovsky
Some Words from the Translator: Texts, Translation, Glossary
Patricia M. Ranum
The Triumph of Divine Love over the Powers of Hell
The Experimental Science of the Things of the Other Life
From the Translator, The Spiritual Poems: An Epic
Patricia M. Ranum
 Mystical Prologue Addressed to Jesus Christ
 Deed of Gift Executed in the Donor’s Lifetime, Made in Favor of Jesus Christ by One of His Servants
Introduction to the Letters
Moshe Sluhovsky
All interested in Mysticism, demonic possession, the history of the Jesuits and historians and literary scholars of early modern France.
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