Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Prince of Darkness

“He wears disguises, but his ends are single and lie in only one direction, double faced but never double-minded, never undecided, never vague or feeble in his purposes or ends.”

~Edward M. Bounds, on The Devil

Looking for something diabolic?  Look no further.  Prince of Darkness is a lovely little pocket-sized biography on the Horned One.  It uses excerpts from the bible to break down the history, personality, and motivations of everyone’s favorite red headed Lucy (…No, not the dead one!) Though Prince of Darkness is nowhere near as in depth as Jeffrey Burton Russell’s Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World, don’t be fooled. Elwood pulls all the stops, sticking his best finger into the Devil’s brain, picking it tenderly like a fresh batch of blueberries.

That's right Lucille, you win that academy award.  It's not like I am jealous, or anything.

There are lots of fun little tidbits of information here in this book.  For example, Elwood spells out the nature of the serpent that exposed Adam and Eve to their favorite dish, the forbidden fruit.  Many consider this serprent to be Satan himself (after all, Adam and Eve were the first human sinners, but Satan was the first sinner of the Angelic Plane).  But just like the Native American folklore, where the Owl was a victim of his own vanity (the Owl's form is the opposite of what he wished it to be), so was the Snake in Christian folklore.  According to the Bible, snakes were once beautiful creatures, but the snake was cursed to crawl on his belly for his sin of convincing Adam and Eve how juicy those apples tasted.  It's the tidbits like this that make this book so interesting.   

But I suppose if I had to nit pick, since the book is an easy to read interpretation and analysis of Bible quotes, there’s a level of preachiness in the air as you read it.  I suppose I didn’t know what to expect when I first picked it up.  But I think it would have been more fun to incorporate analysis of other writings and interpretations of The Devil, like from Paradise Lost, Dante’s Inferno, and dare I say Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Graphic Novel? (ok, maybe not that one, it was written after this book was.  But you get what I mean).  It would have given a lot more depth to the subject, for sure.  After all, the many authors of the bible (the ones “God” spoke through, for you Christ-fags) aren’t the only ones who have something to say about the Devil’s Character. 

The artwork in this book is one of the highest selling factors for me.  Pages are filled cover to cover with the biblical artwork of famous French artist, Gustave Dore.  Some of his more familiar scenes represented in this book are Dore’s depictions of both Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno.  My favorite has always been the piece with Dante and Virgil looking over the 9th circle of Hell, dwarfed by the overwhelming size of Satan, beating his mighty wings.

My copy of the book comes with a golden strap, which offers a quick biography on both the author and Mr. Dores.  The book also has a box to keep the cover from getting dirty.  Apparently, it was once sold for 3.95, but of course inflation is a factor here in purchasing a copy now.  Just google it, I’m sure you’ll find it for an affordable price.  I myself have seen it from under ten dollars to hundreds of dollars.  Just ignore those pretentious twats that choose to sell a tiny book for ridiculous prices.  

This book is not the classic "occult piece" it is made out to be on the internet.  There is nothing here to learn about the dark arts, nor is there anything all that bold, besides a good old fashion Christian Bible lesson.  But if you wish to read a fun and concentrated piece on the Bible's interpretation of Satan, this is the book for you. 

Don't Panic!  If you'd like to learn a little more about the dark arts, keep your peepers pealed, kiddies.  There's much on the docket.


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  4. I love Dore's drawings of Dante's Inferno. Classic work.