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The Devil’s PartySatanism in Modernity$
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Per Faxneld and Jesper Aa. Petersen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199779239

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779239.001.0001

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Witches, Anarchism, and Evolutionism

Witches, Anarchism, and Evolutionism

Stanislaw Przybyszewski’s fin-de-siècle Satanism and the Demonic Feminine

Chapter:
(p.53) Chapter 3 Witches, Anarchism, and Evolutionism
Source:
The Devil’s Party
Author(s):

Per Faxneld

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779239.003.0003

This chapter presents the Satanism propagated by the Decadent author Stanislaw Przybyszewski (1868–1927), and interprets the role women play in it. Unlike other literary Satanists, Przybyszewski's sympathy for the Devil was sustained through many works, he publicly declared himself a Satanist and the ideas were well-developed enough to be called a system. Przybyszewski, the chapter argues, was therefore “the first Satanist” in a strict sense. The core themes in his thinking are a celebration of evolution (anchored in social Darwinism) and sexual lust, a pessimist view of human existence, and lastly a nihilist anarchist will to destruction, all presented using a shock tactic of semantic inversion typical of the Decadent movement, turning “evil”, “degeneration” and other usually obviously negative words into designations for something positive. Reading Przybyszewski's seemingly misogynist texts about witches within this framework, a plausible interpretation is that he is not at all slandering her but rather pays homage to her as a vitally necessary representative of the evolutionary “good evil” his system is centered around.

Keywords:   Satanism, Stanislaw Przybyszewski, decadence, women, evolutionism, anarchism, witches, misogyny

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