Johannes Kepler's 'Somnium' and the Witches' Night Flight


Johannes Kepler
Copernican astronomy
lunar travel
science fiction

How to Cite

Flood, V. . (2021). Johannes Kepler’s ’Somnium’ and the Witches’ Night Flight. Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures, (8), 74–97.


This article explores the uses of the witches' night-flight in Johannes Kelper’s Somnium (1634). It situates Kepler's engagement with the motif in the broader context of debates on the reality of the night-flight among early modern witch theorists, including Kepler's contemporary and friend, Georg Gödelmann. It proposes that Kepler understood the night-flight as a phenomenon with a disputed reality status and, as such, an appropriate imaginative space through which to pursue the thought experiment of lunar travel. Consequently, it suggests that we ought not to dismiss Kepler's engagements with the figure of the witch as a vestigial medieval superstition (itself a problematic contention), but rather an interest characteristic of his age, and that we might find in the speculations of witch-theory the very beginnings of science fiction.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Victoria Flood


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