The Angel Asrael

by S. Henry Berthoud
adapted by Brian Stableford

cover by Aurelien Maccarelli

Asrael summoned the aid of his brothers, the demons, but bursts of laughter came from all directions, and mocking voices said to him: “Asrael, you are no more than a human now; you have lost your Spiritual essence!”
The Angel Asrael (1832) is the most revealing and the purest of S. Henry Berthoud’s fantasies, and a significant early contribution to what became the great Romantic and Symbolist tradition of “literary satanism,” in which writers deliberately adopted a stance removed from orthodox Christianity in order to reappraise the character of Satan.

As might be expected of a devout writer, Berthoud shows no sympathy for Satan, who remains an archetype of vitriolic nastiness, but in his characterization of the rebel, like John Milton, he cannot help express a certain admiration for his overweening pride and vaulting ambition. Berthoud’s God owes his status not to any intrinsic virtue, but merely to his victory in the War in Heaven, which Satan unhesitatingly attributes to chance.

This collection also includes sixteen other stories that demonstrate what a truly ground-breaking author S. Henry Berthoud was, and how amply deserving he is of a modern reappraisal of his achievements.

Taken from Chroniques et traditions surnaturelles de la Flandre  (1831):
Beauduin Bras-de-fer
The Dead
The Cook’s Son,
The Rubricator
The Shepherd’s Clock
Simon the Accursed
Giles the Hideous
The De Profundis
The Pact
The Eglantine
A Story Heard While Listening at Doors
The Soul in Purgatory
The Delation
The Spell
The Beggar’s Sou
The Seminarian
The Angel Asrael (Asrael et Nephta, Histoire de Province)  (1832)
Introduction, Afterword and Notes by Brian Stableford.