Devil Stories-an anthology - PDF ebook

Devil Stories-an anthology 

Devil Stories-an anthology
Devil Stories-an anthology

Contents of the stories

The devil in a nunnery, by F.O. Mann.--Belphagor; or, The marriage of the devil, by N. Machiavelli.--The devil and Tom Walker, by W. Irving.--From the memoirs of Satan, by W. Hauff.--St. John's eve, by N.V. Gógol; tr. by Isabel F. Hapgood.--The devil's wager, by W.M. Thackeray.--The painter's bargain, by W.M. Thackeray.--Bon-Bon, by E.A. Poe.--The printer's devil, anonymous.--The devil's mother-in-law, by F. Caballero; tr. by J.H. Ingram.--The generous gambler, by C.P. Baudelaire; tr. by A. Symons.--The three low masses, by A. Daudet; tr. by R. Routledge.--Devil-puzzlers, by F.B. Perkins.--The devil's round, by C. Deulin; tr. by Isabel Bruce.--The legend of Mont St.-Michel, by G. de Maupassant.--The demon pope, by R. Garnett.--Madam Lucifer, by R. Garnett.--Lucifer, by A. France; tr. by A. Allinson.--The devil, by M. Górky; tr. by L. Wiener.--The devil and the old man, by J. Masefield


Of all the myths which have come down to us from the East, and of all the creations of Western fancy and belief, the Personality of Evil has had the strongest attraction for the mind of man. 

The Devil is the greatest enigma that has ever confronted human intelligence. So large a place has Satan taken in our imagination, and we might also say in our heart, that his expulsion therefrom, no matter what philosophy may teach us, must forever remain an impossibility. 

As a character in imaginative literature, Lucifer has not his equal in heaven above or on the earth beneath. In contrast to the idea of Good, which is the more exalted in proportion to its freedom from anthropomorphism, the idea of Evil owes to the presence of this element its chief value as a poetic theme. The discrowned archangel may have been inferior to St. Michael in military tactics, but he certainly is his superior in matters literary. 

The fair angels — all frankness and goodness — are beyond our comprehension, but the fallen angels, with all their faults and sufferings, are kin to us. There is a legend that the Devil has always had literary aspirations. The German theosophist Jacob Bohme relates that when Satan was asked to explain the cause of God's enmity to him and his consequent downfall, he replied: "I wanted to be an author." Whether or not the Devil has ever written anything over his own signature, he has certainly helped others compose their greatest works.

 It is a significant fact that the greatest imaginations have discerned an attraction in Diabolus. What would the world's literature be if from it we eliminated Dante's Divine Comedy, Calderon's Marvellous Magician, Milton's Paradise Lost, Goethe's Faust, Byron's Cain, Vigny's Eloa, and Lermontov's Demon? Sorry indeed would have been the plight of literature without a judicious admixture of the Diabolical. 

Without the Devil, there would simply be no literature because without his intervention there would be no plot, and without a plot, the story of the world would lose its interest. Even now, when the be- lief in the Devil has gone out of fashion, and when the very mention of his name, far from causing men to cross themselves, brings a smile to their faces, Satan has continued to be a puissant personage in the realm of letters. 

As a matter of fact, Beelzebub has perhaps received his greatest elaboration at the hands of writers who believed in him just as little as Shakespeare did in the ghost of Hamlet's father. Commenting on Anatole France's The Revolt of the Angels, an American critic has recently written: "It is difficult to rehabilitate Beelzebub, not because people are, of one mind concerning Beelzebub, but because they are of no mind at all." How this demon must have laughed when he read these lines! Why he needs no rehabilitation. 

The Devil has never been absent from the world of letters, just as he has never been missing from the world of men. Since the days of Job, Satan has taken a deep interest in the affairs of the human race; and while most writers content themselves with recording his activities on this planet, there never have been lacking men of sufficient courage to call upon the prince of darkness in his proper dominions in order to bring back to us, for our instruction and edification, a report of his work there. 

The most distinguished poet his infernal Highness has ever entertained at his court, it will be recalled, was Dante. The mark which the scorching fires of hell left on Dante's face was to his contemporaries sufficient proof of the truth of his story. 

The subject matter of literature may always have been in a state of flux, but the Devil has been present in all the stages of literary evolution. All schools of literature in all ages and in all languages set themselves, whether consciously or unconsciously, to represent and interpret the Devil, and each school has treated him in its own characteristic manner.

Author: Maximilian J. Rudin
Publication date:1921
Publisher New York, A.A. Knopf

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