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The Devil: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 31 May 2012
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This book may appeal to those wanting a short but insightful survey of those understandings of evil that the devil represents. (Reform Magazine)
Devil believer or devil-denier, you'll find plenty to get your teeth into here. (Northern Echo)
In this densely researched and drily elegant book, Satan is pursued through Augustine, Marlowe, Milton, Shelley, Blake, Goethe, Ambrose Bierce, Auden and CS Lewis's Screwtape, tales of self-mortification and witch-hunting, painting and the cinema. (Steven Poole, The Guardian)
About the Author
Darren Oldridge is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Worcester. For ten years his research and teaching has focused on the Devil, witchcraft and the concept of evil. He is the author the expanded second edition of The Witchcraft Reader (Routledge 2008), and Strange Histories (Routledge 2005).
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Top Customer Reviews
For the inter-testamental Jewish writers, and for the medieval and post medieval writers, the Devil is an endless source of fascination and controversy. James I wrote about him passionately, Augustine advanced an entire theology of a ransom paid to the devil (later dismissed by Anselm), Milton made him the star of Paradise Lost, and CS Lewis brought his minions memorably to life in The Screwtape Letters: Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil.
All this and much more Darren Oldridge covers in a book which is informative and even entertaining, without ever asking you to actually make your mind up on what you think of it. As an Introduction, this is pretty good.
I was sceptical about this book -- what it was trying to do, how successful it would be. I think that, for the social construct of the Devil in art and literature, I can thoroughly recommend it. If you're looking for a more personal introduction, read the Screwtape Letters.
Other authors have expressed their personal bigotry in books on the subject but Oldridge delivers an even handed overview that will offend no one but deliver what was asked of him. For anyone who thinks they know a little about the subject, the author will join the many dots in culture, society and literature to help us see the picture that may have not have been obvious.
For anyone studying the subject this will be a great primer, and an excellent reference. The book is worth buying for its bibliography alone, but there are other reasons on almost every page. For any student needing to reference Satan in an essay, this would be an excellent source.
As a series I have found these 'Very Short Introductions' mixed, but Oldridge stands out of the crowd in delivering an excellent piece of work.
What I find particularly refreshing is the author's refusal to take sides, whether in justifying the traditional Christian view of the existence of a personal Devil, or in high-mindedly dismissing it as a primitive superstition. So this book can be found acceptable by anybody.
The book covers the history of Satan from his most notorious down through the years, and makes a good starting place if you are interesting in the history of belief and its effects.
As we have moved on and developed as a society the Devil has fallen out of favour, and after reading this book I do wonder why. People seem so anxious to believe that there might be vampires, etc, and yet the oldest deity (or should that be anti-deity) is ignored by all but the likes of South Park.
Definitely an interesting read.
Readers would also like "Jenna's Flaw," a novel about Satanism and demonic possession in the Midwest.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
How do YOU imagine the Devil ? How does He present himself in your world ?Your relationship with the old bastard would be challenged....Published on 26 April 2013 by Lady Natalia A. K.
This book does what it sets out to do, that is, provide a historical survey of the devil in western thought and culture, starting from the pre-Christian premise of Satan as "the... Read morePublished on 22 Mar. 2013 by Man Raised By Penguins
Darren Oldridge's short introduction to the Devil is recommended for its brevity and insight. As he points out, 'the history of the Christian Devil is the history of an idea. Read morePublished on 12 Jan. 2013 by Neutral
This book presents a short introduction to the Devil as a figure in Western Judeo-Christian thought and culture. Read morePublished on 14 Dec. 2012 by Dr. Bojan Tunguz
Following the Devil's cloven footprints through history, Darren Oldridge traces the evil one back to his Old Testament roots when he was more in God's senior management team, as it... Read morePublished on 14 Nov. 2012 by Adam
Human beings have a propensity to reify or personify forces or events to appear the result of the actions of an outside nonmaterial being. Read morePublished on 25 Oct. 2012 by Charlotte
The "Ronseal" of book titles, the "Very Short Introductions" series are just as they say.
I have long-vested interests in the development of and theories surrounding... Read more