With his rebellious attitude, varied monikers, self-appointed titles, and dizzying array of costume changes, the devil is pretty much a quintessential diva — just with a few added demands. The newly released anthology Sympathy for the Devil
showcases his popularity as a flamboyant literary muse with stories by the likes of goth-horror master Stephen King, Pulitzer-winning indie fave Michael Chabon, and high school English staple Nathaniel Hawthorne. But before disappearing into this well-curated abyss, familiarize yourself with the Prince of Darkness’ varied incarnations through our guide to some of his preferred literary personas — it might not save your soul, but at least you’ll know what you’re up against.
The Debonair GentlemanWhat to watch out for: A sexy, smooth-talking symbol of irreverence and total defiance. In this case, mankind (including reader and, oftentimes, author) is seduced by the power of possibility itself, the suggestive potential implied with questioning the status quo.Things to avoid: Fun; suave strangers; forbidden trees (particularly of the forbidden fruit-bearing variety).Recommended reading:
The Contrarian Trickster What to watch out for: The trickster figure appears in most mythological pantheons, so it follows that this version of Satan shares a trouble-making puckishness with his counterparts like Cupid, Loki, or Coyote. It’s just that in this high-stakes game of cat and mouse, mankind is but a diversion for the devil’s restless amusement as wayward souls are used as toys to be experimented with. Things to avoid: Any deal that sounds too good to be true. Recommended reading: The Gospel According to Jesus Christ
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe); The Book of Job
The All-of-Us What to watch out for: While it’s always much easier to blame someone (or something) else, this mostly contemporary interpretation of the devil’s true nature points a condemning finger at mankind’s inner flaws. Apparently evil comes from within as much as from without — especially when mob mentality is involved. Things to avoid: Everyone; everything; yourself. Recommended reading:
The Army of Darkness What to watch out for: This Satanic cesspool encompasses an entire army of damning spawn that’s dedicated to the eternal suffering and condemnation of we mere mortals. The best examples of this style are those that spotlight an individual voice amid the collective chorus of malady — a twisted combination of Three Musketeers-esque unity and devilishly introspective musings. Things to avoid: Antique books; letters written in blood; mysterious messages from strangers. Recommended research: