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Are we either good or bad, and do we really know the difference? Why do we want what we cannot have, and even to be what we're not? Can we desire others without wanting to possess them? Can we open to others and not risk possession ourselves? And where, in these cases, do we draw the line? Ewan Fernie argues that the demonic tradition in literature offers a key to our most agonised and intimate experiences. The Demonic ranges across the breadth of Western culture, engaging with writers as central and various as Luther, Shakespeare, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Melville and Mann. A powerful foreword by Jonathan Dollimore brings out its implications as an intellectual and stylistic breakthrough into new ways of writing criticism. Fernie unfolds an intense and personal vision, not just of Western modernity, but of identity, morality and sex. As much as it's concerned with the great works, this is a book about life.