Thursday, December 23, 2010

The ten best devils

For the Guardian Peter Stanford, author of The Devil: A Biography, picked the ten best devils in film and literature.

One entry on his list:
Paradise Lost

It was the 17th-century Puritan poet John Milton who produced the first psychologically compelling portrait of the devil, no longer the sly predator but (initially, at least) an edgy seductive hero. With his fine words, theatricality and swagger, the only physical sign of the evil within is the lightning scar on his face. In a device that is now all too familiar, the devil is first built up by Milton – "he above the rest/In shape and gesture proudly eminent/Stood like a tow'r" - and then debunked as a washed-up idealist turned cynical and out for revenge: "dismay mixt with obdurate pride and steadfast hate".
Read about another book on the list.

Satan from Paradise Lost is among the 50 greatest villains in literature according to the (London) Telegraph and appears on John Mullan's list ten of the best devils in literature.

Paradise Lost also appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best pieces of fruit in literature, ten of the best visions of hell in literature, ten of the best angels in literature, and ten of the best visions of heaven in literature; it is also on Diane Purkiss' critic's chart of the best books on the English Civil War.

--Marshal Zeringue