(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The Spell chronicles events in a remote mountain village. The sleepy, almost atavistic goings-on of the town are gradually disrupted when Marius Ratti suddenly appears, looking for work. He draws more and more people under his hypnotic spell, causing dissension, suspicion, and violent outbursts in a previously harmonious environment. Told from the perspective of many years’ distance, the village doctor’s tale seems to be a search for answers as he describes what took place in his town.

Most of the people in the village have lived there their entire lives, with the exception of the narrator, a doctor who at one time worked as an obstetrician in a large urban hospital, and Wetchy, an insurance agent. The lives that these people lead are simple, and the rituals by which they mark the passing of the seasons blend pagan and Christian practices, as if this isolated town were somehow fixed out of time. Ratti arrives in March and immediately begins agitating for changes, criticizing the villagers’ activities and trying to disrupt their routines. His anger is directed chiefly toward another outsider, Wetchy. Ratti despises him both because Wetchy and his family look different from the other villagers and because Wetchy sells wireless radios on the side.

Ratti focuses on the impropriety of the radio as an example of the town’s tainted values and urges people to give up these devilish devices and return to a purer way of life. Gradually, the villagers begin to see the “wisdom” of his teachings and not only stop using their radios but also look upon Wetchy and his family as undesirables, scapegoats...

(The entire section is 668 words.)