Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World (Paperback)Jeffrey Burton Russell (author)
Mephistopheles is the fourth and final volume of a critically acclaimed history of the concept of the Devil. The series constitutes the most complete historical study ever made of the figure that has been called the second most famous personage in Christianity.In his first three volumes Jeffrey Burton Russell brought the history of Christian diabology to the end of the Middle Ages, showing the development of a degree of consensus, even in detail, on the concept of the Devil. Mephistopheles continues the story from the Reformation to the present, tracing the fragmentation of the tradition. Using examples from theology, philosophy, art, literature, and popular culture, he describes the great changes effected in our idea of the Devil by the intellectual and cultural developments of modem times.Emphasizing key figures and movements, Russell covers the apogee of the witch craze in the Renaissance and Reformation, the effects of the Enlightenment's rationalist philosophy, the Romantic image of Satan, and the cynical or satirical literary treatments of the Devil in the late nineteenth century. He concludes that although today the Devil may seem an outworn metaphor, the very real horrors of the twentieth century suggest the continuing need for some vital symbol of radical evil.A work of great insight and learning, Mephistopheles deepens our understanding of the ways in which people in Western societies have dealt with the problem of evil.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 229 x 155 x 18 mm
An excellent and important intellectual history.* Library Journal *
It is more than the history of demonological imagination as it has been displayed for half a millennium in theological controversies, in poetry, novels, paintings, and witch trials: it is the history of European man trying to cope with the terrifying riddle of radical evil.... Both an extremely rich scholarly work and an exiquisite exercise in a topic that is unlikely ever to die off in our civilization.-- Leslek Kolakowski * Journal of Modern History *
Jeffrey Burton Russell is not only a conscientious historian, he is also an introspective essayist who acknowledges his own continuing struggle to understand the nature and the source of evil.-- Robert Coles * New York Times Book Review *
No few sentences can adequately convey the book's richness of content and seriousness of purpose. Russell has without doubt bequeathed us a magnificent synthesis of Western culture's modern, tortuous grappling with the ideas of radical evil and the devil.-- Brian Easlea * American Historical Review *
This book moves with sustained seriousness and brilliance across five centuries, from Luther's time to our own... and, although it has all the virtues of great intellectual history, it is explicitly rooted in a profound moral analysis of our own era.-- M. D. Aeschliman * National Review *
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