Not signed in (Sign In)
  1.  (1432.21)
    @Nigredo
    Oh yes. All gothic, romantic and early romatic fictions had any diabolical relationship, but not only diabolical relationships. And the devil, in romantic imagination, had a heavy and peculiar inclination to the symbolic and alegorical field, like the Goethe's Mephistopheles or the many men without shadow or mirror reflexion that you could found in these kind of literature.

    And Fernando Pessoa is a excelent choice (a devil's choice, indeed). Are you read "Devil's Hour" in Portuguese or Spanish?
    •  
      CommentAuthorjohnjones
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2008
     (1432.22)
    Falling in with Reynolds "a devil" I think Clive Barker's "Mr. B. Gone" is really good, really creepy demon protagonist story.
    •  
      CommentAuthorobliterati
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2008
     (1432.23)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    On the subject of Barker, I saw his play "History of the Devil" a bunch of years ago and thought it was pretty amazing. It took place mostly in a courtroom setting, Lucifer was on trial at the special parole hearing he gets every thousand years. Haven't read the original and I guess a stage version is different depending on the production company but I liked the version I saw.

    I've always wondered about Dr. Who vs. the devil in the Tom Baker film they never made, Vincent Price was going to play the devil and his character's name was Scratchman. I read they cancelled the film when Star Wars came out because they didn't want to compete using cruddy BBC special effects.
    •  
      CommentAuthorjohnjones
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2008
     (1432.24)
    They did a moderately interesting Who vs. Satan two parter during the second season of the modern show with Tennant.
    •  
      CommentAuthorstsparky
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2008
     (1432.25)
    The being that inhabits Professor Edward Rolles Weston in Perelandra is the "devil" to bring up C.S. Lewis again.
    •  
      CommentAuthorslybyron
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     (1432.26)
    I can't take credit for noticing this on my own, but Douglas Wolk pointed out (in his book Reading Comics) that when Jason Blood shows up early in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run, he acts just like Woland does at the beginning of The Master & Margarita--you know, predicting how people are going to die & claiming to be thousands of years old, etc. I found that cool.

    And I rather like Clive Barker, but I resisted B. Gone, partially because I'd rather he just quit whatever else he's doing and finish writing The Scarlet Gospels.
    •  
      CommentAuthorslybyron
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008 edited
     (1432.27)
    I remember liking the Screwtape Letters, but it's been over ten years, and I'm not really in the same place religion-wise. I have a friend who's tried getting me to read the Perelandria books, and he gave me the first one as a birthday gift, so I'm honor-bound to read it someday.

    Also on the Inkling front, I took a class on Tolkien at UGA (in the same mock-epic summer that I studied Milton), and I found myself liking the Silmarillion more than I liked the Hobbit or the Rings books. I know that sounds pretentious, but The Silmarillion is really worth the effort, because it features some really great myth-making, and something big happens on almost every page. There's an old god named Morgoth, who's pretty much out of the picture by the time Bilbo gets involved with the ring. Morgoth is great; he was the first evil being in Middle-Earth, and Sauron was originally an elemental fire-spirit who got corrupted by Morgoth, who is cast very much in the Luciferan mold, i.e. touting rebellion as proof of free will.
    •  
      CommentAuthornigredo
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     (1432.28)
    @collindeplancy
    And Fernando Pessoa is a excelent choice (a devil's choice, indeed). Are you read "Devil's Hour" in Portuguese or Spanish?


    In Greek actually. One of the most underrated writers unfortunately.
  2.  (1432.29)
    V for Vendetta.

    Well, it's a fun theory at any rate.
  3.  (1432.30)
    James Hogg's The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner is a key text. It nicely deconstructs Calvinism as a belief system and deals with the ways that different tellings of different stories can result in completely different outcomes. It's also an incredible portrayal of how the devil, should (s)he exist, can so easily manipulate unquestioning Christian beliefs to cause mayhem and murder.

    It's a wonderful book I can't recommend enough.

    S.
    •  
      CommentAuthorslybyron
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008 edited
     (1432.31)
    Okay. We've got beaucoup examples of the 'good' devil character lined up. What makes him tick? What makes for a convincing, identifiable, sympathetic, & entertaining (if not quite likable) devil?

    I know this isn't revelatory, but I think part of it might be that we're conditioned to think of the devil in terms of his relationship with God, right? God himself is very hard to identify with as a character. (If this were a "God in Fiction" thread, I doubt there would be a lot of positive entries.) So the devil is this immensely powerful, otherworldly juggernaut of an angel, but he comes off thinking & acting just like we do. I guess the church would say that he invented human nature as we know it, and I think he led by example, and that's why I find his archetype so compelling.

    (And I'm not knocking God as a concept or belief; it's just his anthropomorphic portrayals that come off badly.)
    •  
      CommentAuthorslybyron
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008 edited
     (1432.32)
    And what are some poorly executed devils? Not to start any fights, but which ones don't work, and why do you think they don't?

    I don't like Dante's use of the devil as some nonverbal, three-headed monster who just sits in the center of Hell, chewing on people for all eternity. Even Gustav Dore woodcut illustrations can't make me like that devil.

    And I really like "Dangerous Habits" & most of the Garth Ennis Hellblazer plotlines, but I don't like his long-haired, bodybuilding, Romance-novel-coverboy-gone-bad take on the devil. I understand that he's a patsy, and while he gets his digs in here & there, he's really just there to get knocked over by John Constantine, which I can appreciate, but that doesn't make me like the character.
  4.  (1432.33)
    Lucifer by Mike Carey. Excellent read from beginning to end.
  5.  (1432.34)
    @Slybyron

    Well, your question are really interesting ones for everyone with some more or less "antropological" (so, "neutral" or "scientific") focus on human nature, on few words, the evil's nature. Besides, I thought this the devil's narrative secret. Oh yes, there are few examples of god's narrative, but the fact is: the simetries between the nature of devil and our nature, in the Theological terms. So, the ironic and picaresque nature, the "sins revelator machine" function (in Theological terms, by the way), all this things made the devil a really sympathetic character. In the Collin de Plancy dictionaire, for example, the devil's legion generals are designed by the illustrator as funny creatures, caricaturized in the way of bad politicians.

    But when you see god and devil as a kind of continuum, the things could be more interesting to the character "god". In the fiction, the Dostoievsky Grand Inquisitor (a tiny chapter of Brothers Karamazovi roman) is one fo the best representation of the second coming (so you say, the God in the person of a new Jesus), when the confrontation between ethic, evil and freedom arises. In this way, the definitions by Karl Barth in the article Gott und das Nichtige (God and Nothingness - I can't found the article online) are something new and ferocious: "Because God reigns in the left hand too, He is the cause and master of the Nothing itself" (in my bad translation).
    •  
      CommentAuthorRJBarker
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     (1432.35)
    There's a really good non-fiction book called 'The Birth of Satan' by T.J. Wray and Gregory Mobley that traces the modern Devil to his biblical roots. It also gives the lie to anyone who tells you 'Satan made them do it!/is in them!/is an excuse for their behavior.'

    It's very well written, wry and amusing. I'd point anyone with an interest in old Jack Scratch at it.
    •  
      CommentAuthorrfrancis
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     (1432.36)
    To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust. Satan as protagonist plus more angels and devils than you can shake a pitchfork at.
    • CommentAuthorElohim
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     (1432.37)
    I'll second Mike Carey's Lucifer, along with Neil Gaiman's previous work on the guy in Sandman. I've actually quite liked all the Hellblazer depictions of Lucifer and Hell's leadership.

    Old Harry's Game by Andy Hamilton (on BBC Radio 4) has quite a good portrayal of Satan.

    According to 17th century French folklore, the Devil looked like a city gentleman, with long black coat, floppy black hat, and a manicured beard and moustache. You could only tell it was him because he had hooves instead of boots.
  6.  (1432.38)
    I saw a documentry once that said that the Devil in any religion is symbolic of other religions. The pointy beard and unkempt eyebrows of the Devil in my childhood's picture bible probably pointing to the arabic stereotype and the goat's legs being a nod to paganism.

    Let's try and forget Louis Cypher in Angel Heart... whoever says "I didn't see that coming" deserves a thorough pulping.
    •  
      CommentAuthorEithin
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     (1432.39)
    Shaw's Man and Superman has a long intermission-type scene with the Devil as a character, when they all turn into Don Juan analogues. It's an interestingly nontraditional, rather gentlemanly (if fussy and peevish), portrayal.
    •  
      CommentAuthorslybyron
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     (1432.40)
    @RJBarker

    Thanks for the nonfiction recommend. Another one I've found is The History of the Devil & the Idea of Evil by Paul Carus. It's up on sacred-texts.com, if anybody wants to take a look. The book is interesting in places, but I think it's a little too broad with its thesis; it takes into account Buddhist & Hindu ideas that in all likelihood have nothing to do with the devil as he 'exists' today. So there's a lot of interesting asides that don't enlighten you much about the subject of the book.

    Also, is your icon taken from a Paul Laffoley painting? Just wondering.