Coincidentally, within the month of the release of my edition of The Long-Lost Friend came another book by John Hohman, Der Freund in der Noth, from Patrick Donmoyer at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center. This “Friend” is another book of Pennsylvania German charms, originally published in 1813.
I will admit that I was a little wary when originally ordering this book. A friend of mine owns an original German copy of Der Freund in der Noth, and I knew it was a short work. I was going to buy one, of course, but I wasn’t sure if I could recommend it fully, comparing the price with my experience with the German. I’m happy to say, however, that all my fears were unfounded.
First, the book itself is not paperback, but bound in an attractive red cloth cover. This is a major deciding factor for me; it moves this book to the price point of many of the other small press works I’ve reviewed here in the past. I don’t think the PGCHC website describes it as such, so I wanted to make it clear.
As for the book’s contents – they are quite impressive. You have parallel German and English texts of Der Freund, with a great deal of annotations. You also have an introduction discussing the book’s history and Pennsylvania German folk healing, a translation of a short partial book of magic, a list of parallels between Der Freund and another work, some reproductions of pages from that work, a few notes on The Long-Lost Friend from the press of Scheffer, and more information on the “Gypsy-Letter” to prevent fire found in The Long-Lost Friend. To top it all off, you’ve also got a bibliography and an index.
All of the above is excellent. Donmoyer takes a view of the topic from the field of Pennsylvania German studies, so it complements my own more universalist views of magic and healing quite well. If you’re enjoying my own Friend, you should check out Patrick Donmoyer’s as well.