No (Or Maybe Some) ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ in Literature

During Trump’s hellish American presidency, thoughts can turn to the devil in literature. Satan or Lucifer or Beelzebub or whatever you want to call him, that immortal guy is an evil yet rather charismatic fellow good for plenty of drama — and perhaps some comedic hijinks, too.

All that is certainly part of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita — a raucous, sobering, hilarious novel I read last week that stars “the devil in disguise” (to quote an Elvis Presley song) and his memorable assistants. As in many books featuring the Prince of Darkness, this brimstone bro is depicted as both real and symbolic — partly functioning as a device to satirize the Stalin-ruled Soviet Union. (Pictured atop this blog post are the book’s title characters — with The Master not the devil but rather a 20th-century Russian who writes a novel, within Bulgakov’s novel, set in the time of Jesus.)

Set in the Russia of the 19th century, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic The Brothers Karamazov includes a long, significant, incredibly entertaining cameo from Satan.

American literature also has its share of Beelzebub-ian appearances. For instance, Douglass Wallop’s The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant uses the familiar trope of someone selling their soul to the devil to get something they crave; in Wallop’s novel (which inspired the hit musical Damn Yankees) that something is becoming a baseball star.

Then there’s William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian — with the latter novel featuring a chilling guy (Judge Holden) who may very well be the devil visiting America’s bloody 19th-century West.

Short stories I’ve read that fit this blog post’s sulfurous theme include Stephen Vincent Benét’s “The Devil and Daniel Webster” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” In the second tale, Lucifer is more a philosophical presence than a “real” presence.

In the poetry realm, there’s of course Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Among the devilish works I haven’t read are Dante’s Inferno, Goethe’s play Faust, and Anne Rice’s novel Memnoch the Devil. Not sure Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada quite fits here…

Your favorite fictional offerings with a Satanic element?

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for The latest weekly piece — partly about a state politician who (surprise, surprise) isn’t keeping some of his campaign promises — is here.

136 thoughts on “No (Or Maybe Some) ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ in Literature

  1. What surprises me after a quick run through the comments here is that no one mentioned a literary work called the Bible, which some people regard as great fiction. I have a much higher regard for it than to call it that, though I don’t read it literally. At any rate, Satan makes several appearances in the Bible as well as in the Qur’an an in other sacred writ. And I recommend y’all read the book of Job again, speaking of the devil. Especially Stephen Mitchell’s translation. Superb.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Bill! A great point. If the Bible is considered a work of at least partial fiction, then it’s hard to top Satan’s appearances in it when it comes to devil-in-literature examples.


  2. So as to provide musical accompaniment to this topic, here’s Peetie Wheatstraw, The Devil’s Son in Law, The High Sheriff of Hell (actually William Bunch a blues musician out of 1930’s St. Louis). There are a number of other blues tunes on topic, “Devil’s Got My Woman” (Skip James), “Me and the Devil Blues”(Robert Johnson, “Hellhound on My Trail”(Robert Johnson), “Whoopie Blues” (King Solomon Hill)– but these are sinister and occasionally scary, while Mr. Wheatstraw just sings with a grin in his throat and rocks the piano devilishly and right in time.

    “The Peetie Wheatstraw Stomp”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “The Man Who Was Born Again” by Paul Busson was published in translation a few decades ago in a single volume also containing Gustav Myrink’s “The Golem” by Dover Books– and somewhere amongst my shelves and tottering piles my copy is hiding from me.

    This fantasy novel was originally printed in the 1920’s, not long before the author’s death, and though it is structured around mystic East orientalist something-or-other having to do with reincarnation, there is in it a strangely effective narrative and narrator, and many scenes that stick with the reader of such specificity and power that somehow it seems, for the duration of the time it takes to read, to succeed on the impossible terms it has set for itself: the narrator does really seem to recall a former life.

    There are two recurrent characters (not counting the narrator)– one is Evli, a sort of guardian angel, and one is a leering insinuating devil who keeps the souls he has snatched up in a purse from which can occasionally be heard pitiful noises, as from starving mice.

    Merely conjuring this character up in my memory now is giving me the creeps. Any reader looking for such eerie sensation of evil need look no further than “The Man Who Was Born Again.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, jhNY, for mentioning that not-mentioned-before book with a devil element. And a very creepy one at that. Excellently described!

      Your naming of a novel in the fantasy genre reminds me that the evil wizards in works such as “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the “Harry Potter” series are Satan figures in a sense.


      • “Your naming of a novel in the fantasy genre reminds me that the evil wizards in works such as “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the “Harry Potter” series are Satan figures in a sense.”

        Dr. Faustus is also such a one, in that he, like his tempter, is intent to upend God’s natural law wherever it conflicts with his own desires and pursuits. The engorged satiety of those desires and pursuits arrives well before his days on earth come to an end, Faustus the scholar beforehand having consumed and comprehended all the philosophies and scientific knowledge of man.

        Had he not exhausted himself in the prideful acquisition of knowledge– had he devoted his energies to a life of faith– he would not have been so susceptible to Beelzebub’s attractions. Like Satan, Faust is not content with his place in the cosmological chain of being– he would be on earth a god, conceiving of his desires and seeing them fulfilled at once. Like Satan, he cannot be satisfied.

        Had Faustus but known the Otter Rule (“You f-cked up. You trusted me.”), he might have fared better all around in his dealings with Beelzebub. Sadly, “Animal House” was not released in general distribution till many centuries after his own time had passed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you, jhNY! A great comment, with a funny ending I didn’t see coming.

          As a reader, I’ve never experienced Faustus, but he sounds like a rather complex guy. Perhaps he is to Satan as a cover band is to the real thing? Not the best analogy… 🙂


          • I think Faustus is the embodiment of human vanity who imagines by study and the attainment of secret knowledge (and eventually a devilish contract) he might wangle his way past the will of God and past the limits of earthly life, which in practical terms, would make him god-like. In this way he is Satan-like– he who would upend divine order to attain the objects of his own selfish desires.

            In comparison, Faust is, to bring Twain’s old formulation into it, the ‘lightning bug’ to Satan’s ‘lightning.’ But both will burn.

            I’m certain I’ve brought this up in other comments, but my father made me read the Marlowe play aloud with him at a tender age, I taking the Faustus role. His was Beelzebub. Left a mark.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thank you for that vivid, excellent Faustian analysis, jhNY.

              And that’s quite a memory — the Marlowe play reading of your father and you. I think reading Dr. Seuss (if even that) with me was the extent of my parents’ literary intervention. 🙂


  4. I think I’ve mentioned here that I had a friend I used to go to a lot of concerts and Broadway plays with. Another going to plays at the Sight and Sound Theatre in Lancaster, which were all extremely Christian in performance. I went with her as a good friend, but made me squirm in my seat. When we went to which was “The Christmas Story,” the last scene in the play was showing the nativity scene but they had a red-dressed and horned devil sitting on top of the stable. Everyone, except from me, clapped, and was actually appalling.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Decades ago, I attended a showing of the Lon Chaney classic (1925) “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine here in NYC– the largest Gothic (revival) structure of earth. Prior to the showing, several costumed ghosts and goblins ran down the aisle from the altar, for entertainment purposes. Among my fellow attendees, there was a ripple of shock and upset, as well as laughter.

      As an entirely lapsed Episcopalian, I admit a bit of surprise, though no fear of divine punishment. After all, I had come to cathedral to see a horror movie, so any upset on my part would have seemed a bit misplaced, as perhaps, in retrospect, was the site for the showing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting recollection, jhNY!

        I’ve been in that church a couple of times — awe-inspiringly large and ornate (though one laments about how all the money spent to build it could have done so much good in other ways). I can see how costumed ghosts and goblins would add some “frisson” to that place…


        • I knew a woman who conceived a child, as she put it, in the shadow of that cathedral, had a relative by marriage who killed himself in that same shadow, and another relative– also by marriage– who attended the boy’s boarding school once housed on the grounds and sang in the choir.

          Me, I used to visit more often years ago, before their excellent gift shop burned to the ground, and before they became more religious about charging admission. Before they trained their flood lights on the facade, it used to be lovely in the falling snow. There was also an old ramshackle rose garden that the management tore out with no notice– big leggy bushes overwhelmed by sweet-smelling blooms. Though I don’t know if they still have the run of the place, there used to be peacocks– lovely to behold, the resplendent males most of all, but apt to scream and break into the garbage cans. Also, there is a weird statue of St. Michael atop a crab in bronze that dominates the front garden.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Interesting information about, and memories from, that place!

            While I was only inside a couple of times, I walked by quite often when I lived on the Upper West Side. Definitely had/has its beautiful aspects; a shame some of those aspects are gone.


            • I’m not sure which cathedral it was, but one time when I was in NYC with Bill, we were walking around and I started to feel sick so we stopped in a very grandiose church. It was beautiful, but after we left there, we went to The Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel, and I felt much better there than anywhere else. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

                • Fixed!

                  If the grandiose church you visited because you were unfortunately feeling sick was somewhat near The Plaza, perhaps it was St. Patrick’s Cathedral?

                  (The Plaza is a beautiful hotel, but of course too expensive for most people. I did go in it several times when the National Cartoonists Society held its annual awards banquet there.)


                  • Yes, now that you’ve reminded me, it was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I do remember Bill, who was a life-long Catholic, genuflecting or whatever it’s called, and to be trite, I did feel like I was a fish out of water. We never stayed at the Plaza, but would sometimes go to the Oak Room as a special treat.

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                    • St. Patrick’s is beautiful, but I’m also uncomfortable with religious rituals of any kind. And, yes, it can be fun to visit restaurants or lobbies of certain pricey hotels even when one can’t afford to stay overnight. 🙂


                  • That St. Pat’s is the second so named here, the first being more downtown and less ornate by a longshot. The first St. Pat’s (1815), on Mulberry Street between Price and Houston,was the place in which the Irish caricatured luridly in Scorsese’s “The Gangs of New York” took refuge and defended whenever their ethnicity and religion were attacked.

                    The second St. Pat’s, iconic NYC landmark, I always associate with the success of 2nd and 3rd generation Irish Americans in civic life hereabouts.

                    Liked by 2 people

                    • Thank you, jhNY! As someone who has lived in or near NYC most of my life, I had no idea there was a first St. Patrick’s! Yes, the second one is symbolic of an ethnic group becoming more “successful” in the U.S.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Thanks, Dave and jhNY about the St. Pat’s remembrance of those cathedrals. I love them all as pieces of architecture and art, rather than what they were designed for. I always wonder how many died because of their religion, same as with the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, etc. I can’t really wrap my head around that.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I hear you, Kat Lit. Churches can be appreciated for their look rather than (or for some people, in addition to) the religious aspect.

                      And, yes, religion is directly or indirectly responsible for countless deaths — whether it be people killed for their religion or people who use their religion as an excuse to kill. 😦 Quite a legacy for bad (along with some good).


  5. I was going to say “Memnoch the Devil” 🙂 Anne Rice often goes off on religious tangents that I don’t always follow, but Lestat journeying to both Heaven and Hell was a lot of fun. I’m not sure if it’s the same book, but I’m pretty sure in one of the Vampire Chronicles, Lestat overhears a conversation between God and the Devil. The Devil isn’t necessarily the bad guy…

    I think a lot of the bad guys in Stephen King novels are supposed to be the same guy. His initials are always RF, and he’s always really creepy. I remember RF mostly from “The Stand” and “The Dark Tower”. I don’t think it’s ever stated outright that RF is supposed to be The Devil, but if he’s not, they definitely work quite closely together!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Sue! Interesting thoughts on the devilish or near-devilish or sort-of-devilish elements in some of Anne Rice’s and Stephen King’s fiction.

      Re “RF,” I love it when authors — whether King, Rice, Vonnegut, Zola, Balzac, etc. — have the same elements and/or characters showing up in several books.


      • Sadly, I’ve not read Vonnegut, Zola or Balzac yet, though all three are on my TBR. I don’t know that Rice has too many similarities in books that don’t belong to the same series, but King definitely does, and I love it too 🙂 I think he discovered that he liked it when writing “The Dark Tower”. There are a lot of characters who pop up from other stories.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you, Sue, for the point about Anne Rice! I’ve only read one book by her, so I shouldn’t be making any assumptions about her work. 🙂

          I haven’t read enough of Vonnegut to know whether I’m a big fan or not, but I love many of Balzac’s and Zola’s novels.


  6. Have you read the book Childhood’s End? It was a sci-fi novel that came out in the 50s or so. It doesn’t have the devil as a character, it is about an alien invasion (which has some verrrry interesting consequences). But the aliens are made out to resemble demon images in Christian literature, which I found to be a very interesting twist on the story. It’s a pretty good book if you ever have time time.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus”, and Goethe’s “Faust” feature Beelzebub and Mephistopheles respectively,each of whom is quite the devil.

    The most sympathetic, and pathetic depiction of Satan of which I am aware: Peter’ Cook’s character in my favorite 1960’s comedy film: “Bedazzled”. He is bored eternally by doing wicked deeds on earth, but fears the prospect of boredom in heaven– endless rapture and praising of the Almighty hold but temporary charm– should he finally have sufficient souls in his possession to be asked again Upstairs…

    “The Mysterious Stranger” by Mark Twain is a laying out by example of the sort of speculations that make priests’ hair go gray when they are voiced in seemingly innocent tones by the seemingly innocent during confirmation classes. I read it as a teenager, and it seemed like a good age to get it under one’s belt, though I admit I never possessed so much faith as to be much shaken by it.

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    • Thank you, jhNY, for those four devilish mentions!

      The only Goethe work I’ve read is “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” which is quite compelling.

      Yes, re “Bedazzled,” fictional devils can get a bit bored with all their (wicked) power. The devil and his assistants in “The Master and Margarita” certainly went to great lengths to keep things interesting — displaying their powers in a theater show and in other kinds of high-profile ways.


      • Re the Bedazzled devil: what I liked was that his prospects, so far as he could see them, were eternal boredom no matter what: boredom here below, as he endlessly tricks and hurts and lies long after his heart has gone out of it, and eternal boredom above, as all that prostrating and genuflecting and praising would go stale shortly after his arrival in heaven, yet would miraculously go on and on and on and on.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. While he isn’t THE devil, Shylock is called a devil plenty of times in The Merchant of Venice. However, I do value the element he brings in to the play. And I love how, as opposed to the standard comic villain, Shylock is very humanized and even pitiable at times. And in the devilish tendency to deny mercy to Antonio, it’s in Antonio’s mercy (as he sees it in forcing Shylock to convert) where Shylock is “defeated”. There are a lot of problems with the play when considered in a modern context, but I love the dynamics of it and the conversations it provokes – most notably around the devil character of Shylock.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Quest Quilts! That’s an important nuance you expressed — there’s the devil in various literary works, and then there are villains or semi-villains who are not actually the devil but are fairly or unfairly ascribed devilish qualities.

      As with Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice,” the devil and his assistants in “The Master and Margarita” are humanized to some extent.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Christopher Moore is the best comedic novelist since Mark Twain. His first novel was the masterpiece Practical Demonkeeping

    As for politics, I never criticize Trump. We reached the point long ago where critique hurt him, now it only helps him. If one were to monitor Brietbart or FOX, one would immediately be aware that liberal disdain is the octane in their gasoline.

    As for critique of Trump within the progressive sphere, it is even more damaging. Talking crazy about crazy is the very definition of crazy.

    I encourage my progressive friends to focus on honing their own message and broadening its appeal rather than fanning the flames for those who thrive on fire.

    I live in a region that was once 90% Democrat. We are the people who gave the world Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy and Paul Wellstone and now we are 90% Republican.

    There are two explanations for this, either it is the work of Satan or the DFL (Democratic) party has lost focus.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Almost Iowa, for the Christopher Moore mention! I looked at your link, and the novel sounds really intriguing. Great title, too!

      Whether liberals express disdain for Trump or not, they will still be “demon”-ized ( 🙂 ) by Republican politicians and Republican media people and the rest of Trump’s conservative-white “base.” So we might as well get it off our chests. Plus Trump totally deserves criticism for his countless reprehensible words, beliefs, and actions (racism, sexism, immigrant-bashing, history of being a sexual predator, the constant lies, the corruption, etc., etc.).

      That said, I’ve often written (not just here) about the politicians and policies I support — Bernie Sanders (I also like Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, and one-time-possible-presidential-candidate Sherrod Brown), Medicare for All, a decent minimum wage, higher taxes on the very rich, a smaller military budget, and so on.

      I guess it’s like the cliché “walking and chewing gum at the same time.” One can criticize what one is against and advocate for what one is for.

      “…the work of Satan” — funny quip by you!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Trump’s conservative-white “base.”

        That may be true, but again remember, where I am writing from was once the heart of Humphrey, McCarthy and Wellstone country, now it is 90% Republican.

        There is a reason for that.

        Here is an entirely fictional characterization of our 2018 caucus night.

        “Did you caucus last night?”
        “With who?”
        “I went over to the school auditorium to caucus with the DFL. Tradition and all. There was only two people there. Alice Svenson and Todd Abrams. She was screaming at him about not being woke and he was thundering at her about not knowing anything about the busting of the P9 Union at Hormel.”

        “Really, you stuck around for that?”

        “No way, I had to get over to the County for a meeting of first responders. They had a presentation about language and dialect.

        In Brownsdale, the EMT’s responded to a call of a woman flopping like a crappie on the living room floor, his kids were in a panic. All indications were that they were Guatemalan or Mexican – but no one spoke Spanish.

        Keep in mind that a lot of immigrants from Central American may not know Spanish and the Karen (Burma/China) and South Sudanese have a ton of dialects….its like a rapper talking to a cockney, so you can’t rely on getting a translator, you have to go with your training and deprioritize trying to communicate.”

        The issues we face are not about race or immigration per se, they are the day to day struggles of recent immigrants and the financial and institutional challenges of dealing with them.

        In the face of these issues, my sister who lives in Minneapolis who has never been down here, remarked that in her opinion, the area was “too white”.

        Seriously, people have no clue what we are dealing with out here or how we are dealing with it.

        The gap between perception and reality feeds the GOP and Trump because they have a better handle on it. It is why they won Wisconsin and almost won Minnesota. They will another Congressional seat after Peterson retires next year.

        I say forget about Trump, howling about him is just playing his game. We have a lot of work to do and talking points, slogans and Trump bashing are not winning any hearts and minds.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks for the follow-up comment, Almost Iowa.

          Even if criticizing Trump sometimes backfires/has unintended consequences, not criticizing him feels like a form of unilateral disarmament. Republicans would never “disarm” that way.

          I realize the integration of immigrants into American life can be a challenge in some ways, but it has been done before with waves of white immigrants (Eastern Europeans, the Irish, Italians, Scandinavians, etc.) who often spoke different languages. It can also work with people of color from the so-called “third world” if there is more tolerance. This is very personal for me, because one of my daughters was adopted from Guatemala.

          I feel major reasons why Wisconsin went for Trump included voter suppression (“courtesy” of Scott Walker’s administration), Russian interference, and Hillary Clinton mostly ignoring the state.

          Your neck of the woods has moved Republican in recent years, but some former red states — such as Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia — have moved enough in the liberal direction to become purple states.


          • Having lived in Minneapolis for a few years, I was stunned the first two high schools I went to did not have any blacks. It felt weird to me to walk around and not see anyone of color. The only one ever was a foreign exchange student from the Bahamas. He once asked if he could come over to my parents’ place to visit, but when I asked my mom, she said “no.” I was shocked by this because she was always fairly liberal in politics, racial or anti-war matters. I also think that the idea that Hillary didn’t win the election was because she didn’t visit states like Wisconsin and my home state of Pennsylvania was overblown, but then I’m not an expert in polling matters!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Kat Lit, a shame those high schools were so homogenous, and that your mother had that ethical lapse. Sadly, my parents were also not exactly enlightened about people of color. They weren’t liberals per se, but always voted Democratic, as far as I know.

              I agree that Hillary not visiting certain states was probably just a small part of why she lost. There was also (as I mentioned before) the Electoral College, voter suppression, Russian interference, her centrism at a time of populism, etc. And of course sexism.


            • Kat Lit little space below…I sort of made up my mind, in the primary I might vote for Pete B, highly qualified, Rhodes Scholar, Harvard graduate.
              Of course I could change my sick of trump and his mental instability and small minded jealousy.

              Liked by 1 person

        • I disagree.

          Trumpites are beyond redemption through talk or screed– but they are also a minority– a shrinking one at that. Still, they might hope to add to their total by convincing the so-called independents to vote their way. Trumpites + independents may mean a second term for Trump, should enough of the latter join up with the former.

          And it’s those independents that progressives should also hope to persuade– they are more or less disengaged throughout much of the campaign cycle, but do take it upon themselves to look in on politics from time to time. And that’s when I hope somebody is talking something in their ear that are not Fox news once removed. They might be persuaded by progressives, should progressives make their voices heard, and their points pointed. Democratic base + independents= a new occupant in the White House.

          As a citizen of NYC, I believe I have seen more immigrants on all sides of me than you ever will. And I can attest: everybody is doing the best they can, nearly always. The Irish, the Poles, the Italians were all, in their time of arrival, treated to scorn and accusations of unfitness for citizenship– most of all for being not quite white. Years passed, and in their millions these folks became Americans. The folks who are lately arrived? They will too, immediate difficulties notwithstanding.

          And in most cases, folks from all over the world, landing in places without their own kind, found conversation formidable and the difficulties before them nearly insurmountable. Nearly. And yet…

          Liked by 2 people

            • Now the influx of white power, and American Nazis , they come out of the woodwork after trump became the Accidental Presidents.

              We lived in Overland Park KS for 30 years and after Nashville we are in OH. Even now in our township we have mostly whites. Every election year our County is very important in deciding the Presidency.
              Was evident during Obama/ Romney final tally. Karl Rove declared Mitt was the winner and insisted on it , but it was Barack Obama. Hillary also carried the County but our township within the County remains Republican .

              I remain careful these days opening my mouth but I still I do.

              Oh btw..America being backwards We just had St. Patrick`d Day , the Prime Minister of Ireland recently was seen with trump.

              But what kind of name is that ? Oh wait..
              Leo Varadkar Prime Minister of Ireland is a Non White 🙂 and handsome and openly Gay .while trump is so very ugly who really wants to look like that ?

              Liked by 2 people

              • Thank you, bebe. You’re right — Trump has made it easier for white supremacists everywhere to be more open about their sick beliefs, attack people, etc.

                And, yes, Republicans control too many towns — including diverse ones, even as the GOP remains a mostly white party. Also, it’s true, as you allude to, that criticizing people like Trump can draw a lot of pushback. I still don’t understand how he has 35-40% approval ratings. I guess there are a lot of racists out there, because Trump’s policies certainly aren’t helping non-affluent people — including the non-affluent whites who support the Monster-in-Chief.

                Liked by 1 person

                • There’s another potential candidate out there that I find quite intriguing is Mayor Pete Buttigieg from South Bend, Indiana. He’s openly gay and is very impressive on all the shows I’ve seen him on so far.

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          • “Nearly. And yet…”

            This is so well said, jhNY. I completely agree that people are nearly always doing the best they can. On both sides. That’s why I get so angry when politicians and the media try to create fear of things that just don’t exist. I think mostly we all agree that people are just people. They might talk a bit funny, and look a bit different, but we all want the same things. We’re all hurt by the same things. And yet it seems that we can be brainwashed to believe that all brown people are evil terrorists, and all Jews have no feelings so it’s ok to torture them.

            But it’s so easy to see the things you have in common, rather than the differences, and I think Australia mostly does that. Like the Irish, and the Poles and Italians in New York, the Greek and Lebanese have immigrated here and become Australian. But they’re different Australians. They’re not quite white, and they have funny accents, but they’re not even Greek and Lebanese accents anymore. They’re Australian immigrant accents, and some of them are second and third generation! Our country wouldn’t be what it is today without these kinds of Aussies. And if the government would stop butting in, then the lately arrived would soon be Aussies too.

            I’m sorry if this is a bit ranty, Dave. After the atrocities in New Zealand over the weekend, I’m feeling very, very anti hate and fear.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Thank you, Sue. I agree that what jhNY wrote was very well said — as was what you eloquently wrote. Not ranty at all.

              Yes, many (not all) politicians and many (not all) media outlets stoke divisions for their own benefit — getting elected, getting higher ratings, etc. Disgusting. No matter what their race or nationality, people really are basically the same — even as they have some differences. And what a boring world it would be if there weren’t differences.

              While I know Australia has its problems, it seems to me that certain factions of the U.S. (including Trump and his ilk) are much worse in terms of anti-immigrant demagoguery.

              The massacre in New Zealand (by a man partly inspired by Trump and Trump’s anti-Muslim viciousness) is a tragedy beyond imagination.


      • Almost Iowa and Dave, I agree with all your comments, especially about your take on the devil-in-chief, Trump. There would and have been so much I disagreed with most Republicans, but it’s hard to come up with anyone as vile as Trump. His 50 or so tweets over the last weekend were beyond the pale, but the worst of all were his ones about John McCain, I didn’t vote for him in 2008, but he shouldn’t still be denigrated 7 months after he died, especially after all of his heroism in Vietnam. I think everyone here who have seen my comments knows that I was anti-Vietnam and protested, but I never felt animosity to those who served. My best girlfriend is a clinical psychologist, who to this day is still counseling veterans, but I think most of them served in Vietnam and have PTSD, or others who had effects from Agent Orange.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you, Kat Lit! Very well said.

          I agree that Trump — and his tweets — are as vile as they come. And I also agree that Trump’s constant disparaging of McCain is beyond low. A draft dodger and coward and man of no principles slamming a brave war hero with a good deal of integrity. McCain was far from perfect, but Trump has absolutely no redeeming values. And few Republicans, including the late McCain’s supposed pal Lindsey Graham, have pushed back against Trump for his countless reprehensible remarks about McCain. That makes those silent/complicit Republicans almost as bad as Trump.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I agree with you, Dave, I wonder why none of McCain’s fellow Senators have not called out Trump over this or spoken more loudly, especially Lindsay Graham. He and they should have done something by now. Are they that afraid of Trump or being primaried? They should all be ashamed of themselves!

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          • Lindsey Graham is a spineless coward, these men up in their age have lost their backbone, they are simply worthless.
            At least Mitt Romney spoke up , con don will not be able to touch him, he has solid footage for 6 years.
            Trump as so many are saying has become mentally incapacitated.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I agree, bebe — Lindsey Graham is incredibly spineless, like many other Republicans in Congress. And, yes, Mitt Romney deserves credit for being one of the few GOP right-wingers to speak up re Trump’s sick trashing of McCain. Not a super-strong statement by Mitt, but strong enough.

              Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jennifer! That sounds like a very interesting essay. There’s definitely more than a little adultery in “The Master and Margarita” — by major and minor characters. In some cases, Mikhail Bulgakov depicts that non-judgmentally.

      And thanks for the “Memnoch the Devil” recommendation!


    • Thank you, Michele! Ha! The devil is indeed more likable and admirable than Trump in some ways. Trump is kind of an ultra-devil — and if he ever gets a pitchfork, it will be gold-plated. 🙂


  10. I’m having trouble coming up with any literature with the devil or Satan appearing in it, though I did read “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Screwtape Letters” mentioned by others. However, I do remember one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, in which a bad guy is killed by the police while trying to escape from them. When he comes to, he meets with someone supposedly working with St. Peter. He is happy to learn that he is given everything he ever wanted, e.g., gambling wins from opulent casinos, more money, booze and is surrounded by beautiful women, all the time and all day long. He finally realizes that he is completely bored with it all and begs the character from “Heaven” to send him to the “other place,” which Satan or the Devil (or his emissary) laughs demonically, and says, “This IS the “other place!”

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Kat Lit! I also had some trouble coming up with a lot of literature featuring Satan, which explains the shortness of my blog post. 🙂

      I didn’t see that “Twilight Zone” episode, but it sounds fantastic — like many of those episodes were. VERY well described by you!


      • Yes, I think, but it always used to bug me how Heaven actually worked in the supposed afterlife However, it actually worked to bury me in how Heaven and Hell actually worked. I had such a fertile imagination, and it always used to trouble me about the story behind how it came to me. If good people only go to heaven then what about the people in his/her home that they lived with for many years. What happened to them? What about animals we’ve loved through the years. Who ends up in Hell or Heaven? What’s the line that bothers me? Some things seems to be quite easy to figure out, but there are so many crossing the lines?

        Liked by 2 people

    • Reminds me of a popular Soviet joke: Someone ends up at the gates of hell and is told he has to choose between Western hell and Soviet hell. He asks if he can see them. First he’s shown Western hell, where he sees someone screaming in agony as he’s boiled alive in a huge pot. Horrified, he asks if he can see Soviet hell. This time he sees someone sitting calmly in a pot of room temperature water, an unlit cigarette dangling from his lips. The visitor asks what’s going on. In reply, the man in the pot shrugs and says, “You know how it is here: when we have gas, we don’t have matches, and when we have matches, we don’t have gas.”

      Cue tears of laughter from anyone who’s ever spent time in a (post) Soviet country.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. So glad you got to read “M&M,” Dave! “The Devil Wears Prada” is quite a good read, but there’s no actual Satan there, just an eccentric and demanding magazine editor!

    In keeping with the theme, Gogol wrote that the Devil walked the streets of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg is generally a demonic, unnatural city in Russian literature, while Moscow is natural and good—“M&M” is a bit unusual in portraying devilish activity there, although as you note the devil is a sympathetic character there).

    And then there’s Sologub’s “A Petty Demon,” which features a minor demon or maybe hallucinations of a demon. I cannot actually recommend the book, though, which is pretty disturbingly obsessed with pedophilia.

    Moving away from Russian literature, Terry Pratchett’s “Erik” is a hilarious retelling of Faust and involves the main characters descending into Hell and wreaking havoc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks again, Elena, for being one of the people to recommend “The Master and Margarita”! An incredibly original and memorable book. One feels really bad that it wasn’t published until long after Bulgakov died, but of course that’s no surprise given that he wrote it during the Stalin era.

      Yes, “The Devil Wears Prada” has nothing to do with Lucifer per se, though some of the “eccentric and demanding magazine editors” and other managers I used to work under in the media world would have looked quite natural holding a pitchfork…

      And thanks for the mentions of other works and authors. I’d like to eventually read more of the comedic/compelling Terry Pratchett; I’ve only gotten to one of his novels so far.

      Liked by 1 person

    • ” Gogol wrote that the Devil walked the streets of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg is generally a demonic, unnatural city in Russian literature,”

      I’m guessing because St. Petersburg was decreed and made by man– a man with expansive and worldly desires: Tsar Peter.

      Liked by 2 people

        • In case you haven’t yet read it, there is an idiosyncratic and provocative essay on Moscow, and its periodic cleansing fires through history, in “The Autobiography of a Corpse” by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, published by NYRB Classics. (Don’t have it where I can get at it, so I can’t tell you translator nor pub date)

          I was unacquainted with the writer before I bought this slim paperback, but he is now among my current favorites to read. Last month I finished his “The Letter Killers Club.”

          Liked by 2 people

  12. I love C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters – it should be mandatory reading for all Christians, and anyone else who enjoys a good read. Since it was already mentioned, I’ll also say that Stephen King’s Needful Things fits this category, Dave. A little curio shop where you can fulfill your heart’s desire. No price tags, but lots of options to make a deal with the devilish proprietor. The Master and Margarita sounds intriguing!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Molly!

      I haven’t read “Needful Things,” but not surprised that Stephen King has referenced the devil in his work. Thinking back to the 15 or so King books I’ve read, one could say there were some Satanic elements in “Carrie” and “From a Buick 8,” among others.

      “A little curio shop where you can fulfill your heart’s desire. No price tags, but lots of options to make a deal with the devilish proprietor” — very nice couple of lines!

      Last but not least, thanks for mentioning C.S. Lewis and his “Screwtape Letters”!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I hadn’t considered that Judge Holden might be the devil. He’s certainly a strange addition to the Grissom gang. It’s easy to see why the book is considered unfilmable!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Anonymous! Cormac McCarthy certainly doesn’t say that outright, but seems to hint at it. Adds another layer to that very layered novel.

      And, yes, VERY tough to film “Blood Meridian.” The violence alone would be shocking to see on screen…


  14. Mikhail Bulgakov is one of my favourite authors and ‘The Master and Margarita’ one of my all-time favourite books. I’ve read it several times … it’s so compelling … like being in a kind of a nightmare that you don’t want to wake up from!

    Other books by him that I loved are ‘Heart of a Dog’ and ‘A Young Doctor’s Notebook’. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  15. I think of” Dr. Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe, he bargains his soul with Lucifer and indulges in necromancy to have total power, of course Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. I would love to read Dante’s “Inferno”

    Liked by 2 people

      • Reading Dante’s “Inferno”, (and being really cold) inspired me to return to college from a farm house with a woodburning cookstove for heat that I was sharing with band members in the middle of nowhere Tennessee. I guess the same thing might have happened had I happened on “The Cremation of Sam McGee”, though ironically Sam hailed from the Volunteer State, which he remembered warmly.

        Also, Milton is worth a look, even with so many books, even with so little time.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think I read “Paradise Lost” too young (in my teens). I found Milton tedious going back then, but might feel differently today.

          Yes, if the cold and other possible factors make a person staying in Tennessee want to return to college, it might not matter what was being read at the time. Unless perhaps something by Tennessee Williams…


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