The Devil's Memoirs  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

(Redirected from Les Mémoires du Diable)
Jump to: navigation, search

"Marquis de Sade, ce frénétique et abominable assemblage de tous les crimes et de toutes les saletés."--Les Mémoires du Diable (1838) by Frédéric Soulié


"Frederic Soulie’s Memoirs of the Devil (1837) is a typical example [of a gothic novel], full of adultery, incest and murder, and with a climax in which the devil causes the villain’s castle to be swallowed up in an abyss." --The Misfits: A Study of Sexual Outsiders (1988) by Colin Wilson


"Les Mémoires du Diable. One thing about the book is certain—that it is much more ambitiously planned than the Château; and I do not think it uncritical to say that the ambition is, to a certain extent, successful. One credit, at any rate, can hardly be denied it. Considering the immense variety in circumstances of the bargains with the Devil which are made in actual life, it may seem strange that the literary treatment of the subject should be so comparatively monotonous as it is. Soulié, I think, has been at least as original as anybody else, though it was of course almost impossible for him to avoid suggestions, if not of Marlowe, of Lesage, Goethe, Maturin (whose wide popularity in France at this time must never be forgotten), and others. At the very beginning there is one touch which, if not absolutely invented, is newish in the connection. The Château of Ronquerolles, again in the Pyrenean district (besides the advantages of a mountainous country, Soulié himself was born at Foix), has a range of mysterious windows, each of which has for many generations emerged, with the room appertaining, from wall and corridor without anybody remembering it before. As a matter of fact these chambers have been the scenes of successive bargains between the Lords of Ronquerolles and the Prince of Darkness; and a fresh one is opened whenever the last inheritor of an ancestral curse (details of which are explained later) has gone to close his account. The new Count de Luizzi knows what he has to do, which is to summon Satan by a certain little silver bell at the not most usual but sufficiently witching hour of two A.M., saying at the same time, "Come!" After a slightly trivial farce-overture of apparitions in various banal forms, Luizzi compels the fallen archangel to show himself in his proper shape; and the bargain is concluded after some chaffering. It again is not quite the usual form; there being, as in Melmoth's case, a redemption clause, though a different one. If the man can say and show, after ten years, that he has been happy he will escape. The "consideration" is also uncommon. Luizzi does not want wealth, which, indeed, he possesses; nor, directly, pleasure, etc., which he thinks he can procure for himself. He wants (God help him!) to know all about other people, their past lives, their temptations, etc.—a thing which a person of sense and taste would do anything, short of selling himself to the Devil, not to know. There are, however, some apparently liberal, if discreditable, concessions—that Luizzi may reveal, print, and in any other way avail himself of the diabolic information. But, almost immediately, the metaphorical cloven foot and false dice appear. For it seems that in certain circumstances Luizzi can only rid himself of his ally when unwelcome, and perform other acts, at the price of forfeiting a month of his life—a thing likely to abridge and qualify the ten years very considerably, and the "happiness" more considerably still. And this foul play, or at any rate sharp practice, continues, as might be expected, throughout. The evil actions which Luizzi commits are not, as usual, committed with impunity as to ordinary worldly consequences, while he is constantly enlarging the debt against his soul. He is also always getting into trouble by mixing up his supernatural knowledge with his ordinary life, and he even commits murder without intending or indeed knowing it. This is all rather cleverly managed; though the end—the usual sudden "foreclosure" by Diabolus, despite the effort of no less than three Gretchens who go upwards, and of a sort of inchoate repentance on Luizzi's own part before he goes downwards—might be better."--A History of the French Novel (1919) by George Saintsbury

Related e

Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Shop


Featured:

Les Mémoires du Diable (1838, English: The Devil's Memoirs) is novel by French author Frédéric Soulié. In the novel, protagonist Armand de Luizzi sells his soul to Satan for a rather uncommon consideration.

The book combines the roman frénétique and the roman noir with the passions of the Marquis de Sade.

The book is analyzed in Colin Wilson's The Misfits: A Study of Sexual Outsiders (1988) and Praz's The Romantic Agony (1930).

Plot

The young baron Armand de Luizz goes to the uninhabited family castle to summon the devil. This one will have to tell all the intimate adventures of the characters that Luizzi will meet.

The novel shares similarities with Lesage's Le Diable boiteux.

Trivia

H. L. Mencken in his A Book of Burlesques (1916) included selections of The Devil's Memoirs.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Devil's Memoirs" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools