Not signed in (Sign In)
    •  
      CommentAuthorslybyron
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008 edited
     (1432.41)
    @screaming meat.

    I think you're absolutely onto something. The devil being a lusty goat-man is definitely styled after the god Pan. The snake in the Garden of Eden is interesting too, given how much of an anti-Egyptian slant there is in the Old Testament. Possible Set influence? Could have my dates wrong. And the serpent is also one of the most loaded symbols of all time, more often than not representing something good, like creativity, balance, health, or Alan Moore, so who knows.

    Also, the Bible never explicitly says that the snake & devil are the same guy. It's funny how little the book really tells you of substance about the devil as either a character or concept. It was left up to poets, black magicians, and early church founders to fill in all the details that we know today and take for granted.
    •  
      CommentAuthorslybyron
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     (1432.42)
    @collin

    I read "The Grand Inquisitor" a long time ago, but I didn't read the rest of the Brothers, so I have no sense of context. What happens is, Jesus comes back, and the inquisitor deems the messiah a heretic and sentences him to death, basically. Is that it? The idea that what people have come to believe is so much harsher than what is expected of them? I remember thinking it was very interesting, and sadly Russian literature is one of my big, glaring blindspots as a reader, which is part of why I picked up Bulgakov.

    Also, has anybody read the Aeschylus play Prometheus Bound?
    •  
      CommentAuthorbrittanica
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     (1432.43)
    i've not read this one, but my boyfriend has told me about it: "satan burger" by carlton mellick the third.

    i figured i'd throw that one out there, see if anyone else has read it.
    • CommentAuthorNecros
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     (1432.44)
    A book with a very different take on the Devil/Mephistopheles is Jack Faust by Michael Swanwick. It is a very interesting re-imagining of the Faust story.
    •  
      CommentAuthornigredo
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     (1432.45)
    @slybyron
    Also, has anybody read the Aeschylus play Prometheus Bound?


    Yes. Prometheus is a very Miltonian figure.
  1.  (1432.46)
    As for <em>Brothers Karamazov</em>, I'm surprised no one's mentioned the later scene where Ivan (who wrote the <em>Grand Inquisitor</em> poem, and is slowly going insane) has a long conversation with the devil. Which is insanely brilliant.
    •  
      CommentAuthorvideocrime
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     (1432.47)
    Master & Margarita is pretty straight-up awesome.

    Though I usually hate her to the core, Anne Rice's "Memnoch The Devil" was a very entertaining read... though the vampire bits were a little tacked-on, the theology-bending she goes into is a bit of subversive fun.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     (1432.48)
    This is kinda out of left field, but the White Wolf pen-and-paper game Demon: the Fallen created a very interesting cosmology and history of the War in Heaven, and portrayed the Devil in a rather sympathetic fashion. Which is not to say he isn't a mean fuck, just that you know why he's so bad, and that his adversaries (i.e., Heaven) are much worse than he is for a variety of reasons.
    •  
      CommentAuthorslybyron
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     (1432.49)
    @nigredo

    God, you have read everything. Did you also read Percy Shelley's fanfic-like sequel Prometheus Unbound? It's pretty underwhelming, but he wrote an intro for it, where he says that Prometheus is the better form of Satan, because the Greek god doesn't carry along any bad moral baggage. (In so many words.) I can see where Shelley was going, but I think that's missing the point a bit; the ambivalence is a big part of what makes that character great.

    Also, it comes as no surprise that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (the book, not the Kenneth Branagh bore-fest) is subtitled the Modern Prometheus. It's funny that Percy Shelley was apparently a big fan of the Victor Frankenstein character, whereas if you read the book now, that guy is pretty dreadful.
  2.  (1432.50)
    Great to see Guimarães Rosa here. It's the second time something brazilian is refered to on this forum that I've never expected it would (first time was the Tropa de Elite movie).

    Guimarães Rosa works with the notion of the devil in pretty much all of his works, it's kind of an obsession to the author. And it's amazing how the notion of the devil is always fresh and scary and funny at the same time. Didn't know that Grande Sertão: Veredas was called The Devil to Pay in Backlands, buy the way, and it is a MUST READ novel. No doubt about it.

    On a side note, it's my dad's favorite writer and favorite novel of all times.
    •  
      CommentAuthormuse hick
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008 edited
     (1432.51)
    i didn't notice good omens in there -- i find it hard to read pratchett without getting itchy teeth but gaiman's presence seemed to mute some of his problems with rabbiting on too much.

    the devil in the film the prophecy was pretty good too though gabriel was better, if we might include films; and the you have to add De Niro in Angel Heart
  3.  (1432.52)
    @Slybyron

    I read "The Grand Inquisitor" a long time ago, but I didn't read the rest of the Brothers, so I have no sense of context. What happens is, Jesus comes back, and the inquisitor deems the messiah a heretic and sentences him to death, basically. Is that it? The idea that what people have come to believe is so much harsher than what is expected of them? I remember thinking it was very interesting, and sadly Russian literature is one of my big, glaring blindspots as a reader, which is part of why I picked up Bulgakov.

    Yeha, my friend: you take the Dostoievsky's Grand Inquisitor idea. If Jesus came back to Earth, the Church authorities (Dostoievsky, like a good Orthodox Christian, thinks about, in this case, the roman catholics) will sentences him to death because there is a gap between Christian authority and Christian being. If you read some philosophical speculation by Kierkegaard or Pascal, you will find this kind of idea. It's interesting: if God, in a second coming, returns to our world, the simple divine presence will place the God in the "wrong field", a heretic, a rebel, a troublemaker and, finally, a false messiah or devil messenger.

    Some speculation about this conflicts in Roman Church through the History you can see at Pax Romana, a wonderful comic work by Jonatha Hickman.

    And yes, the Russia/Soviet literature, art and culture is a big continent, with (unfortunately) blind spots. But the Demon and evil plays a big role in all Russian History, with all this dictators with god complex (like Ivan, for example). So, in another fields of art, Russians created some Devil/Evil characterization full with ambivalence. The film Andrei Rublev, directed by Tarkovski. It's not about devil itself, but about the terrible paradoxes of faith, violence and hope. However, the devil plays a background role in this kind of narrative.
  4.  (1432.53)
    @Leandro Damasceno

    Great to see Guimarães Rosa here. It's the second time something brazilian is refered to on this forum that I've never expected it would (first time was the Tropa de Elite movie).

    Guimarães Rosa works with the notion of the devil in pretty much all of his works, it's kind of an obsession to the author. And it's amazing how the notion of the devil is always fresh and scary and funny at the same time. Didn't know that Grande Sertão: Veredas was called The Devil to Pay in Backlands, buy the way, and it is a MUST READ novel. No doubt about it.

    On a side note, it's my dad's favorite writer and favorite novel of all times.


    I fellow huge Rosa's fan. Well, you say everything: all Rosa's fictions is about, in a certain proportion, devil (or, at least, evil in pure or symbolic forms).

    And the commentary about Elite Squad, well, as mine as well.
    • CommentAuthorbuckweiss
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     (1432.54)
    I've always had a soft spot for the devil in Hawthorne's 'Young Goodman Brown" (1835) and to those who mentioned Monk Lewis and other Gothic novels I would add, Zofloya: or The Moor by Charlotte Dacre (1806)
    •  
      CommentAuthornigredo
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008 edited
     (1432.55)
    @ slybyron

    I haven't read Shelley's poem. I've never been comfortable with Modern Prometheus as a suitable subtitle to Framkenstein. I haven't been able to compare the nature of Victor's loss with the revenge the gods exacted on Prometheus. Moreover, Victor's experiments are nowhere near Prometheus' audacity in scope...Victor's triumph over death is an instance of hubris, but it is not developed as something that will ultimately benefit humanity in the novel. I think the comparison on Shelley's part was relatively superficial.
  5.  (1432.56)
    If you ever get the chance, check out "The Devil and Billy Markham" by Shel Silverstein. He wrote a bunch of stuff for kids, but he also wrote some very racy works that publishers avoided like a leper in heat. Playboy picked up a few of them and gave him a monthly column.

    Anyway, DBM has a Devil-went-down-to-Georgia kind of feel to it, in Silverstein's classic rhyme scheme, and with more sex and gambling than you can shake a bag of coke at. It also presents the idea that God and the Devil are the same entity in different costumes.
    •  
      CommentAuthorobliterati
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     (1432.57)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    <blockquote>I saw a documentry once that said that the Devil in any religion is symbolic of other religions. </blockquote>
    Oh you would love the <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yazidi#Religious_beliefs">Yazidi</a> maybe. They predate almost everything and are considered by Muslims to be Satan worshippers because their lead angel is named "Shaytan". But they say their Shaytan isn't evil, that evil only exists inside human minds.

    And wow you guys are well-read. Damn. (Okay I didn't mean damn in <i>that</i> way). I've totally lost track, has anyone mentioned <a target="_blank" href="http://mark-twain.classic-literature.co.uk/the-mysterious-stranger/">Mark Twain</a> yet?
    •  
      CommentAuthorroque
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008 edited
     (1432.58)
    I enjoy some of Clive Barker's early reevaluations of the concepts of "devil" and "hell." and of course there are Exorcist and Legion by William Peter Blatty. I like the way they explore the reasons why devils or demons would want to possess people.
    •  
      CommentAuthorslybyron
    • CommentTimeMar 19th 2008
     (1432.59)
    @buckweiss

    I had completely forgotten about "Young Goodman Brown". I just finished reading it off the Gutenberg link (thank you), and it's better than I remember from that lame survey course I took eight years ago. Stephen King wrote a story called "The Man in the Black Suit", where he tried to imitate Hawthorne (by his own admission), and it's not nearly as good. In the King story, the devil (guess what he's got on) is basically a mysterious guy who threatens to kill you, whereas in "Goodman Brown", the devil will turn everybody you love against you, and--failing that--he'll turn you against everybody you love. Aces.

    There is one line from Hawthorne that I find head-scratchingly racist: "Scattered also among their pale-faced enemies were the Indian priests, or powwows, who had often scared their native forest with more hideous incantations than any known to English witchcraft." So in other words, when white people worship Satan, partake of the black mass, and kiss him on the proffered ass-cheek, it's bad. But when they do it...
    •  
      CommentAuthornigredo
    • CommentTimeMar 19th 2008
     (1432.60)
    @obliterati

    Melek Taus is one of the most fascinating divinities of the Yezidi belief system. Can we upload documents here? I have a few that may be of related interest.

    ps. Moore based King Peacock on him, in Top 10.