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William Baldwin, Beware the Cat, humorous writing, magic in literature


When spaces transform in William Baldwin’s Beware the Cat, the transition is marked with humor, consistently signaling magic to follow. As an amalgamation of folklore, including magic that manifests around, for, and through cats, Baldwin’s work offers adventure, laughter, and danger alike. Some cats are diabolical, worshiping or holding the soul of a witch; however, their wit constitutes a jocular contrast to that of our interior narrator, Maister Streamer, whose quotation above demonstrates a serious misunderstanding of St. Augustine’s beliefs. Though Beware The Cat was published at the start of the early modern period, the folklore it contains speaks with medieval magic, and as such, characters debate and grapple with their conflicting and evolving views of the magical elements within their stories. Thus, Beware the Cat, though imbibed with humor, is equally weaved with cultural meaning, and on a meta level, the text’s multilayered framing welcomes the simultaneousness of this reading.