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


Sagan, Eli. Freud, Women and Morality: The Psychology of Good and Evil. New York: Basic, 1988.

Sagan challenges Freudian psychoanalytic belief in the superego, the harsh, parental male authority functioning as man's moral watchdog. According to the author, Freud's ambivalence toward women prevented him from recognizing the mother-infant relationship as the birthing ground of conscience.

Saussy, E. Tupper. Rulers of Evil: Useful Knowledge about Governing Bodies. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

While a large majority of people knows little of "conspiracy theories," many others believe that they themselves are abundantly enlightened and need no more information on the subject. This book is for both groups.

Schwartz, Richard B. Samuel Johnson and the Problem of Evil. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1975.

Sherman, Roger, and F. Tupper Saussy, ed. Caveat against Injustice: An Inquiry into the Evils of a Fluctuating Medium of Exchange. New York: Spencer Judd, 1982.

Shuster, Marguerite. Power, Pathology, Paradox: The Dynamics of Evil and Good. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987.

Siebers, Tobin. The Mirror of Medusa. Berkeley: U of California P, 1983.

Siebers combines literary and anthropological perspectives to put forward a general theory of superstition.

Simon, Ulrich E. Theology of Auschwitz: The Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil. Atlanta: John Knox, 1979.

Steiner, Rudolf. The Origin of Suffering, the Origin of Evil, Illness and Death. Trans. Mabel Cotterell and V. E. Watkin. Glasgow: Steiner, 1980.

The highest elements in the consciousness of humanity are linked to suffering. There is a connection between pain and suffering, illness and death, and the highest a human being can attain: the fruit of pain is knowledge.

Surin, Kenneth. Theology and the Problem of Evil. Oxford: Blackwell, 1986.

Surin argues that the culprit is the theoretical bent of philosophical theodicy, its need to see evil sub specie aeternitatis, as an intellectual problem to be approached methodically and impersonally; but evil is intractable to theoretical reason.

Sweitzer, Gregory Alan. Psychic Illness: The Rise and Fall of Evil on Earth. Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2000.

Perhaps the most revealing thing about evil is that it reproduces. How many hurt children must grow up and hurt others before we understand? Evil is a disease, a behavior-borne virus transmitted through social behavior. Evil is not some supernatural force or mysterious bogeyman. It is a natural phenomenon: describable, predictable, and vulnerable to the proofs of science. Once we understand this, we gain incredible new tools to heal some of our oldest problems.

Swinburne, Richard. Providence and the Problem of Evil. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998.

This book offers an answer to one of the most difficult problems of religious belief: why does a loving God allow humans to suffer so much? Swinburne argues that God wants us to learn and to love, to make the choices which make great differences for good or evil to each other, to form our characters in the way we choose; above all, to be of great use to each other. If we are to have all this, there will inevitably be suffering for the short period of our lives on Earth. This work concludes Swinburne's four-volume philosophical examination of Christian doctrine.

Taylor, Richard. Good and Evil. Rev. ed. Amherst: Prometheus, 1999.

In the first part of Good and Evil, Taylor searches for a more meaningful way to conceptualize these terms, which each of us lives with every day. The second part provides an empirical explanation of good and evil, noting that one does not have to look too far to find prime examples of the failure of fixed moral rules. Including important commentary on Aristotle's virtues (for example, magnanimity and pride), Taylor develops a philosophy of aspiration – personal worth as an ethical ideal – to replace the morality of duty, and offers a modified form of situation ethics to fit the contemporary problems we face.

Tsanoff, Radoslav A. The Nature of Evil. New York: Kraus. 1971.

Vardy, Peter and Julie Arliss. The Thinker's Guide to Evil. Alresford: O Books, 2003.

A comprehensive view of how we have come to see evil in the West, and where it really lies today, with extensive illustrated use of Western art, film and literature.

Vernon, Mark. "The Evils of Evolution." Big Questions Online, August 5, 2010. http://

Suffering, waste and extinction — the three add up to evolution’s problem of evil, and though that problem per se is not new to believers, evolution arguably intensifies the issue, simply by virtue of scale. So how do scientists who are believers respond to it?

Vicchio, Sthephen J. Voice from the Whirlwind: The Problem of Evil and the Modern World. Notre Dame: Ave Maria P, 1989.

Victor, George. Hitler: The Pathology of Evil. Dulles: Brassey's, 1998.

Victor maintains that one can explain Hitler's personality without at the same time forgiving him or condoning his actions. In this psychohistory of the dictator, Victor uses data and concepts from various fields of social science. He asserts that Hitler was a deeply disturbed person who was troubled by nervous symptoms and was driven by self-hatred, guilt, and a desire to exact revenge for his father's abuse.

Waddell, Terrie, ed. Cultural Expressions of Evil and Wickedness: Wrath, Sex, Crime. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2003.

In a dozen essays developed from presentations at a 2002 conference in Prague sponsored the Perspectives on Evil and Human Wickedness research project, scholars in a wide range of disciplines offer new perspectives on the extermination of the Cathars and Pequots; second-wave feminism and pornography's golden age; sin and redemption in the films of Abel Ferrara; and other public displays of wrath, sex, and crime.

Watson, Lyall. Dark Nature: A Natural History of Evil. New York: Harper Collins, 1997.

Watson brings forth an exploration of the origin and nature of evil. Plotting the evolution of human evil from earth's earliest creatures to the society we have become today, he redefines good and evil in biological terms. Drawing on the latest insights of evolutionary ethology, anthropology, and psychology, Watson takes a fresh look at the problems our species faces as a result of being too numerous, too greedy, and too mobile. He uses a vast array of sources to examine the motivations and driving forces behind evil behavior as well as the invisible order that preserves the delicate balance between "civilized" society and anarchy.

Weeks, Jeffreys, ed. Lesser Evil and the Greater Good: The Theory and Politics of Social Diversity. London: Rivers Oram, 1994.

These essays draw on post-Marxist, feminist, queer theory, etc. to investigate the possibility of "common human standards" in an age of fragmentation, plurality, and contingence.

Wenham, John. The Enigma of Evil. Washington, DC: Eagle, 1997.

An approach to the moral problems of the Bible, which appear to impugn the justice and theodicy of God.

Wilcox, John T. Bitterness of Job: A Philosophical Reading. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1989.

Wilcox's essential point is that Job does curse God. From this central idea, he develops a new interpretation of the book. He argues that, by placing emphasis on God's natural, beautiful, terrifying, and untamable world the book really is an attempt to undo and reform centuries of Judaic (and by implication Christian) theology.

Woodruff, Paul, and Harry A. Wilmer, eds. Facing Evil: Confronting the Dreadful Power behind Genocide, Terrorism, and Cruelty. Chicago: Open Court, 2001.

Scholars, writers, theologians, and philosophers try to explain evil human acts from the Holocaust to the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Worsley, Richard. Human Freedom and the Logic of Evil: Prolegomenon to a Christian Theology of Evil. New York: St. Martin's, 1995.

The intellectual problem of evil is set in the context of other approaches to suffering. In particular, the book provides a critique of the work of the philosopher-theologian Alvin Plantinga.

Yeats, William Butler. Ideas of Good and Evil. New York: Russel, 1903.

Here are Yeats's studies of the mystic element in Blake and Shelley.

Zacharias, Ravi. Deliver Us from Evil. Dallas: World, 1996.

Zacharias examines the mystery of evil; he traces how secularization has led to a loss of shame, pluralization has led to a loss of reason, and privatization has led to a loss of meaning.


Updated August 9, 2011

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