2 JANUARY 1932, Page 32

The pious no longer hurl inkpots at the Devil or

find thcm- selves compelled to counter his persistent assaults by means of fisticuffs, yet the problem of Evil remains as mysterious as ever. The Story of the Devil (Macmillan, 15s.), Which has been translated by Mr. Edward Noble Stone, was written by Arture Graf, a distinguished German-Italian scholar of the 'eighties, and it has the cheerful positivism of that period when science promised complete illumination. Written in the manner of W. H. Lecky, the rationalist historian, the book • lacks the " overtones " of our own age. Despite this draw- back, the account of the Devil, his decline and fall, is fas- cinating : and as a mere matter of patient accumulation the wealth of odd details.and curiosities to be found in these pages is exciting. Here, in fact, is a record of. man's fear_ and of the dire shapes with which he peopled the darkness. Can the Devil sicken ? Can he beget offspring ? Is he doomed to die or will he be forgiven ? Such were the questions which exercised the learned minds of Europe in other ages: The astonishing superstitions, hallucinations and mental ex- periences of the middle Ages. wrought havoc. But mankind has the compensating faculty of being able to jest grimly about its own fears. The mere spectacle of the Devil dodging' a copious application of holy water with undignified howls' of pain must have afforded our unfortunate ancestors much.*

satisfaction. * * * 'a