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The Three Devils: Luther's, Milton's, and Goethe's With Other Essays   By: (1822-1907)

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First Page:

MILTON'S, AND GOETHE'S

E text prepared by the Online Distributed Proofreading Team (http://www.pgdp.net) from page images generously made available by Internet Archive/American Libraries (http://www.archive.org/details/americana)

Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See http://www.archive.org/details/threedevilsluthe00mass

THE THREE DEVILS: LUTHER'S, MILTON'S, AND GOETHE'S.

With Other Essays.

by

DAVID MASSON, M.A., LL.D., Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature in the University of Edinburgh.

London: Macmillan And Co. 1874.

[The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved.]

London: R. Clay, Sons, and Taylor, Printers, Bread Street Hill.

PREFATORY NOTE.

The first five of the following Essays are reprinted from the Author's Essays Biographical and Critical: chiefly on English Poets , published in 1856. The present Volume and two similar Volumes issued separately (under the titles " Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, and other Essays " and " Chatterton: A Story of the Year 1770 ") may be taken together as forming a new and somewhat enlarged edition of the older book. The addition in the present Volume consists of the last Essay.

EDINBURGH: November 1874 .

CONTENTS.

PAGE

I. THE THREE DEVILS: LUTHER'S, MILTON'S, AND GOETHE'S 1

II. SHAKESPEARE AND GOETHE 61

III. MILTON'S YOUTH 125

IV. DRYDEN AND THE LITERATURE OF THE RESTORATION 153

V. DEAN SWIFT 235

VI. HOW LITERATURE MAY ILLUSTRATE HISTORY 301

THE THREE DEVILS: LUTHER'S, MILTON'S, AND GOETHE'S.

THE THREE DEVILS: LUTHER'S, MILTON'S, AND GOETHE'S.[1]

Luther, Milton, and Goethe: these are very strange names to bring together. It strikes us, however, that the effect may not be uninteresting if we connect the names of those three great men, as having each represented to us the Principle of Evil, and each represented him in a different way. Each of the three has left on record his conception of a great accursed being, incessantly working in human affairs, and whose function it is to produce evil. There is nothing more striking about Luther than the amazing sincerity of his belief in the existence of such an evil being, the great general enemy of mankind, and whose specific object, in Luther's time, it was to resist Luther's movement, and, if possible, "cut his soul out of God's mercy." What was Luther's exact conception of this being is to be gathered from his life and writings. Again, we have Milton's Satan. Lastly, we have Goethe's Mephistopheles. Nor is it possible to confound the three, or for a moment to mistake the one for the other. They are as unlike as it is possible for three grand conceptions of the same thing to be. May it not, then, be profitable to make their peculiarities and their differences a subject of study? Milton's Satan and Goethe's Mephistopheles have indeed been frequently contrasted in a vague, antithetic way; for no writer could possibly give a description of Goethe's Mephistopheles without saying something or other about Milton's Satan. The exposition, however, of the difference between the two has never been sufficient; and it may give the whole speculation greater interest if, in addition to Milton's Satan and Goethe's Mephistopheles, we include Luther's Devil. It is scarcely necessary to premise that here there is to be no theological discussion. All that we propose is to compare, as we find them, three very striking delineations of the Evil Principle, one of them experimental, the other two poetical.

These last words indicate one respect in which, it will be perceived at the outset, Luther's conception of the Evil Principle on the one hand and Milton's and Goethe's on the other are fundamentally distinguishable... Continue reading book >>




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