Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 10 best devils

For the Guardian, Peter Stanford, author of The Devil: A Biography, picked the most majestic Satans in film and literature.

One entry on his list:
Dante's Inferno

In this peerless early 14th-century description of life after death, the final one of the concentric spheres of hell is presided over by the devil. But he is impotent, encased up to chest height in ice, with one head but three faces, all of them weeping as he chews in each of his jaws a notorious sinner – Judas Iscariot, Jesus's betrayer, and Brutus and Cassius, conspirators against Caesar. In contrast to depictions of the devil in Dante's day as a cunning foe ready to prey on human weakness, his Lucifer is strikingly modern, a metaphor for nothingness, all hype and menace but no delivery.
Read about the other devils on the list.

Dante is one of Angus Clarke's favorite religious poets.

Inferno appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best visions of hell in literature, and The Divine Comedy is one of George Weigel's five essential books for understanding Christianity.

--Marshal Zeringue