Quotes from 'The Chatto Book of the Devil' by Francis Spufford


By Vexen Crabtree 2002


This book is a large collection of poems, texts and writings from the last two thousand years (and older) on The Devil. It is neither comprehensive nor representative but although it does concentrate on the famous Christian authors (Milton et al.) it also contains some other interesting texts, and great stories.

First published by Chatto & Windus Ltd in 1992. All quotes taken from first edition.

Introduction p1
"I had hoped that, now the greater part of you no longer believe in me, I would have a modicum of leisure pour cultiver mon jardin... but the flood of speaking engagements shows no signs of slackening. Your interest in me has somehow failed to wane alongside your credulity".

  • Used on Who is Satan? The Accuser and Scapegoat

  • Introduction p3
    "You like a thing to have an opposite. You used to think that God was up on high and I was deep down below [...]; you made him white and me pitchy black (except in Ethiopia where, as Diderot enjoyed pointing out in the Encyclopedie, God was a normal healthy black and I was horribly blanched)".

    Introduction p3
    "You treat me as a backwards God [...] despite being quite unable to decide whether you want the frontwards God himself any more. [...] It is a deluded role, a scrap, a travesty, an incoherence: apparently you like it all the same".

  • Used on Who is Satan? The Accuser and Scapegoat

  • p54-57 "Two Moscow Intellectuals Meet a Foreigner" . Text by Miakhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita; translation by Miachael Glenny, 1967.
    "'You see, Ivan', said Berlioz, 'you have written a marvellously satirical description of the birth of Jesus, the son of God, but the whole joke lies in the fact that there had already been a whole series of sons of God before Jesus, such as the Phoenician Adonis, the Phrygian Attis, the Persian Mithras. Of course not one of these ever existed, including Jesus'"
    [A foreigner with an implacable accent approaches and talks to Berlioz and Bezdomny in excellent Russian]
    Glancing furtively round and lowering his voice he said: 'Forgive me for being so rude, but am I right in thinking that you do not believe in God either?' He gave a horrified look and said: 'I swear not to tell anyone!'

    'Yes, neither of us believes in God' answered Berlioz with a faint smile at this foreign tourist's apprehension. 'But we can talk about it with absolute freedom'

    The foreigner leaned back against the backrest of the bench and asked, in a voice positively squeaking with curiosity: 'Are you ... atheists?'

    'Yes, we're atheists,' replied Berlioz, smiling [...], 'In our country there's nothing surprising about atheism,' said Berlioz with diplomatic politeness. 'Most of us have long ago and quite consciously given up believing in all those fairy-tales about God.'"

    p61. By Sigmund Freud, 'Ein Teufelsneurose im Siebzehnten Jahrhundert' 1923, translation by James Strachey 1961.
    "To begin with, we know that God is a father-substitute; or, more correctly, that he is an exalted father; or, yet again, that he is a copy of a father as he is seen and experienced in childhood - by individuals in their own childhood and by mankind in its prehistory as the father of the primitive and primal horde. Later on in life the individual sees his father as something different and lesser. But the ideational image belonging to his childhood is preserved and becomes merged with the inherited memory-traces of the primal father to form the individual's idea of God."

  • Used on "Experiences of God are Illusions, Derived from Malfunctioning Psychological Processes" by Vexen Crabtree (2002)