This highly original and engaging book by French historian Robert Muchembled, is a journey through time and space in search of the changing perception and significance of the devil in Western culture.
The author takes the story back to the 13th century, when visual images of Satan first started to appear, and forward to the 20th Century, dealing with, among others, the place of the diabolical in the films of Stanley Kubrick, including Eyes Wide Shut. The changing figures of Evil over time are shown to correlate with the way in which men conceive of their destinies and the future of their civilisation. Fascination with the diabolical having reached its height in the witch-hunts of the 15th and 16th centuries, by the enlightenment, begins to show signs of decline, a process which has continued up to today. The result of this process, for modern western society, is a subtle metamorphosis of the notion of the devil from fear of Satan, into an internal demon, "the demon within" characterised by a distrust of oneself and ones desires. It is this conception of the diabolical that is visible today in our interest in the supernatural, exorcism, and for example, in the role of the "devlish good" in advertising.
A rich, vivid history of a topic that never ceases to intrigue.show more