Sex, Science, and Liberty

Ruben van Luijk

in The Devil’s Party

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199779239
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979646 | DOI:
Sex, Science, and Liberty

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This chapter discusses the turning point in the history of Satanism from early modern attribution to contemporary identification, which can be located in the nineteenth century–especially in literary works by Romantic Satanists like Blake, Byron and Shelley. They represent an essential stage in the emergence of contemporary religious Satanism; the elements they emphasize in their revaluation of Satan having deeply influenced its form and content. However, the chapter ascertains they do not qualify as Satanists sensu stricto: they never designated themselves as such or held religious rites to worship Satan, and showed widely divergent, often contradicting, attitudes towards Satan, with none of the authors displaying a consistent identification with Satan in their life and works, even during a limited period in their career, and not even in a strictly metaphorical sense. Prominent in the Romantic resurrection of Satan were three thematic elements, which are here captioned under the keywords Sex (linking him with earth, nature, and “the flesh”), Science (Satan as symbol of scientific progress and “modern” critical thought), and (political and individual) Liberty.

Keywords: Satanism; Romanticism; romantic Satanism; sex; science; politics; William Blake; Lord Byron; Percy Bysshe Shelley

Chapter.  5181 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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