Are we either good or bad, and do we really know the difference? Why do we want what we cannot have, and even to be what we're not? Can we desire others without wanting to possess them? Can we open to others and not risk possession ourselves? And where, in these cases, do we draw the line?
Ewan Fernie argues that the demonic tradition in literature offers a key to our most agonised and intimate experiences. The Demonic ranges across the breadth of Western culture, engaging with writers as central and various as Luther, Shakespeare, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Melville and Mann.
A powerful foreword by Jonathan Dollimore brings out its implications as an intellectual and stylistic breakthrough into new ways of writing criticism. Fernie unfolds an intense and personal vision, not just of Western modernity, but of identity, morality and sex. As much as it's concerned with the great works, this is a book about life.
Ewan Fernie is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, author of Shame in Shakespeare, and joint General Editor of the Shakespeare Now! series. Redcrosse, his latest, collaborative project, is a new poetic liturgy for St George's Day, which has been performed in major cathedrals and by the RSC, and a book published in 2012.
Part One: Demonic Negativity 1. Dark Night of the Soul 2. Luther: Man between God and the Devil 3. Marlowe's Doctor Faustus 4. Demonic Macbeth 5. Satan (and Demonic Sex) 6. A Justified Sinner 7. Dostoevsky's Demons 8. Thomas Mann as Dr Faustus (via Love's Labour's Lost) 9. She Devil 10. Loving the Alien Part Two: Turnabout and Dialectic 11. Kierkegaard Trembling 12. Nietzsche: A Demon that Laughs 13. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell 14. Demonic Dialectic: Boehme, Schelling, Hegel Part Three: Possession 15. Introduction A. The Agony in Possessing 16. Angelo 17. Claggart 18. Possessing a Child 19. Possessive God 20. Christ the Possessor B. The Possessed 21. Introduction 22. Donne 23. Poor Tom 24. A Freudian Interruption 25. The Devils of Loudon 26. Jane Lead 27. The Master of Petersburg 28. Schreber