Crimes, Sins, and Monstrosities
Evil in Literature
  A Bibliography on Evil


Neiman, Susan. Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002. [FALE]

Nemo, Phillipe. Job and the Excess of Evil. Trans. Michael Kigel. Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 1997.

Offers a new reading of the Book of Job, going beyond the institutional interests of Jewish and Christian exegetes. Includes a postface by Emmanuel Levinas, first published in 1978, and a response by Nemo to that essay.

Nietzsche, Friedrich W. Beyond Good and Evil. Trans. Judith Norman. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002

Nietzsche refines his ideal of the superman (from Thus Spake Zarathustra) in an examination of human values and morality. He offers insights into the self-destructive urge of Christianity, the prevalence of "slave moralities" and the terrible dangers in the pursuit of philosophical or scientific truth. This edition offers a new translation, by Judith Norman, together with an introduction by Rolf-Peter Horstmann that sets it in its historical and philosophical context.

Norden, Martin F. (Ed.). The Changing Face of Evil in Film and Television. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007.

The popular media of film and television surround us daily with images of evil – images that have often gone critically unexamined. In the belief that people in ever-increasing numbers are turning to the media for their understanding of evil, this lively and provocative collection of essays addresses the changing representation of evil in a broad spectrum of films and television programmes. Written in refreshingly accessible and de-jargonised prose, the essays bring to bear a variety of philosophical and critical perspectives on works ranging from the cinema of famed director Alfred Hitchcock and the preternatural horror films Halloween and Friday the 13th to the understated documentary Human Remains and the television coverage of the immediate post-9/11 period. The Changing Face of Evil in Film and Television is for anyone interested in the moving-image representation of that pervasive yet highly misunderstood thing we call evil. (Rodopi)

O'Connor, David. God and Inscrutable Evil: In Defense of Theism and Atheism. Chicago: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997.

O'Connor discusses both logical and empirical forms of the problem of inscrutable evil, perennially the most difficult philosophical problem confronting theism. Arguing that both a version of theism ("friendly theism") and a version of atheism ("friendly atheism") are justified on the evidence in the debate over God and evil, O'Connor concludes that a warranted outcome is a philosophical détente between those two positions.

O'Flaherty, Wendy D. Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology. Berkeley: U of California P, 1977.

Ophir, Adi. The Order of Evils: Toward an Ontology of Morals. Trans. Rela Mazali and Havi Carel. New York: Zone Books, 2005.

Ophir offers a moral theory that emphasizes the existential and political nature of evil. Ophir's main contention is that evil is neither a diabolical element residing in the hearts of men nor a meaningless absence of the good. Rather, it is the socially structured order of "superfluous evils." Evils, like pain, suffering, loss, and humiliation, are superfluous when they could have been – but were not – prevented.

Oppenheimer, Paul. Evil and the Demonic: A New Theory of Monstrous Behavior. New York: NYU P, 1999.

Oppenheimer analyzes the phenomenon of evil in light of a new theory. He proposes that evil can be understood empirically, as a type of physical and mental behavior that emerges in particular landscapes. Evil, he argues, contains specific, predictable ingredients, and is, as such, a demonstrable fact. By understanding its nature – its diabolical self-consciousness and its impersonal selection of victims – we can diagnose its specific manifestations in mass murder, genocide, and serial killings.

Parkin, David, ed. The Anthropology of Evil. Oxford: Blackwell, 1987.

Different societies have opted for very different sets of explanations, which have evolved in radically contrasting ways. There are societies, for example, in which there is no concept of evil. The Anthropology of Evil discusses the problem in the context of different societies and religions – the Christian, Confucian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim, for example. It also provides perspectives on questions such as the nature of innocence, the root of evil, the notion of individual malevolence and, even, whether God is evil.

Peterson, Michael L., ed. The Problem of Evil: Selected Readings. Notre Dame: U Notre Dame P, 1994.

Pillsbury, Samuel H. Rethinking the Law of Murder and Manslaughter. New York: New York UP, 2000

Pillsbury holds that persons deserve punishment according to the evil they choose to do, regardless of their psychological capacities. He proposes that modern preoccupations with subjective aspects of wrongdoing should be replaced with rules that focus more on the individual's motives.

Plantinga, Theodore. Learning to Live with Evil. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982.

Proclus. On the Existence of Evils. Trans. Jan Opsomer and Carlos Steel. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2002.

The central question addressed in the work is: "How can there be evil in a providential world?" Neoplatonists agree that evil cannot be caused by higher and worthier beings. Plotinus had said that evil is matter. Unlike Aristotle, he collapsed evil into mere privation or lack, thus reducing its reality. He also protected higher causes from responsibility for evil by saying that evil may result from a combination of goods. Proclus objects: evil is real, and not the mere privation of form. Evil, in his formulation, is a parasite that feeds upon good. Higher beings are thus vindicated: they are the causes only of the good upon which evil feeds.

Rashdall, H. Theory of Good and Evil: A Treatise on Moral Philosophy. London: Oxford UP, 1948.

Reichenbach, Bruce R. Evil and a Good God. New York: Fordham UP, 1982.

Rice, Philip Blair. On the Knowledge of Good and Evil. New York: Random, 1955.

Ricoeur, Paul. The Symbolism of Evil. Boston: Beacon P, 1990

Rosenbaum, Ron. Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origin of his Evil. New York: Viking Penguin, 1999.

An explanation of Hitler's psyche, his ancestry, his sexuality, and the origins of his anti-Semitism

Rosenthal, Abigail L. Good Look at Evil. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1987.

This book is a philosophical discussion of the ethics of good and evil: good – "the working out of one's own life story"; evil – "the deliberate thwarting of that work, whether in oneself or in another."

Royce, Josiah. Studies of Good and Evil: A Series of Essays upon Problems of Philosophy and Life. New York: D. Appleton, 1915. Rpt. New York: Kissinger, 2003.

The essays directly or indirectly contribute to the comprehension of ethical issues. The papers are of very various relations to technical philosophical issues. Contents: Problem of Job; Case of John Bunyan; Tennyson and Pessimism; Knowledge of Good and Evil; Natural Law, Ethics and Evolution; Implications of Self-Consciousness; Some Observations on the Anomalies of Self-Consciousness; Originality and Consciousness; Meister Eckhart; An Episode of Early California Life, the Squatter Riot of 1850 in Sacramento; Jean Marie Guyau.

Rubin, Arnold P. Evil that Men Do: The Story of the Nazis. New York: Julian Messner, 1977.

Describes the rise of Nazi power and the events of the Holocaust when more than six million Jews and other minorities were systematically destroyed.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1984.

"This third installment in Dr. Russell's series (The Devil, Satan, Lucifer, Mephistopheles) comes to the Middle Ages, which means that we are well beyond source material in Canaanite and Jewish legend and now into the development of the devil in Patristic literature, and onwards. On the plus side this is the historical period where Russell is an expert so you would expect it to be the strongest of the three volumes. On the minus side, in this volume, as with the others, one is constantly uneasy that the historical perspective is being underpinned by the author's own belief in a literal fallen heavenly being, and too often it is not clear whether the focus is medieval society or metaphysics. Incidentally, anyone buying this book because of the word 'Lucifer' in the title will be disappointed that Russell does not address how the specific concept of 'Lucifer' developed from Origen and Augustine onwards. Neither here, nor in the previous volume Satan, does Dr Russell deal in any depth with the process by which a name which for the first 4 centuries of Christianity was used as a title of Christ (because the Latin word Lucifer appears in the Latin Vulgate as Peter's "day star"), to the point that early Christians used to name their children Lucifer (eg Bishop Lucifer of Cagliari), suddenly by the 5th and 6th centuries was being used as a title for a fallen angel (based on Isaiah 14:12 being reapplied)."


Updated August 16, 2011

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