LE DIABLE AMOUREUX (1772): HALLOWEEN STORY

Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this look at a neglected Gothic Horror tale.

Le Diable AmoureuxLE DIABLE AMOUREUX (THE DEVIL IN LOVE) – Written in 1772 and translated into English in 1793. This story was penned by Jacques Cazotte and is a forerunner of the type of fantastic, oneiric horror stories that E.T.A. Hoffmann would specialize in.

The tale’s protagonist is Don Alvaro, a Spanish military officer serving in the army of the King of Naples in the 1750s. Don Alvaro is a swashbuckling young man with a cavalier irreverence toward organized religion and a fascination with the forbidden thrills of occultism.

Some of our hero’s fellow officers grow annoyed with his lack of piety and resolve to teach him a lesson in the dangers that can be unleashed by diabolism. They provide him with a Black Magic spell and tell him that if he wants a real-life experience with the supernatural he must go to creepy, neglected ruins in the countryside and recite the spell.

camel headDon Alvaro throws caution to the wind and follows their instructions. On the night when he employs the spell amid the ruins he conjures up the head of a giant, malevolent camel, then a deadly canine and finally a beautiful young woman who calls herself Biondetta.

Our hero betrays no sign of fear, which would be fatal, and the impressed she-devil Biondetta falls in love with him. From this point on she tries to seduce him, but he resists her charms since he is aware she has infernal origins and sleeping with her would cost him his soul.

Biondetta also has infernal powers, like sprouting wings and flying our hero around for transportation. She tries to woo Don Alvaro by magically enabling him to reverse his usual bad luck at gambling and begin to win regularly. With this devilish assistance our main character not only makes good on his huge gambling debts but makes a handsome profit.

Biondetta and Don AlvaroStill Don Alvaro refuses to succumb to Biondetta’s ample charms. Eventually the devil decides that the only way to get the Spaniard to sleep with her is to marry him. She tells him that she incarnated in human form out of her overwhelming love for him and a marriage is arranged.

Another complication for Biondetta arises when Don Alvaro insists he cannot marry without his mother’s permission. The couple set off for Spain but enroute they learn that our hero’s mother has passed away. His brother blames her death on Alvaro’s forever-scandalous behavior and wants revenge on him.

SPOILER BELOW

At length it all comes to a head and Don Alvaro is driven to upbraid Biondetta in a fury of religious righteousness. This display of piety drives the she-devil to accept defeat and she vanishes back to Hell.

Jacques Cazotte planned a sequel novel but never got around to writing it. His Royalist sympathies resulted in him being executed on the guillotine in 1792.

This story has been adapted into a few operas, which was where I first encountered it. Its florid style doesn’t exactly make for riveting reading by our 21st Century standards but if you let yourself merely skim a few slow spots here and there The Devil in Love makes for nice Halloween Season reading.   

FOR A NEGLECTED WEREWOLF NOVEL SET IN 1790s NEW YORK STATE CLICK HERE

FOR ISABELLA OF EGYPT, FEATURING A GOLEM, A MANDRAGORE, A LIVING DEAD MAN, A GYPSY WITCH AND A JEWISH SORCEROR CLICK HERE

FOR MORE HALLOWEEN ITEMS CLICK HERE:  https://glitternight.com/category/halloween-season/

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

22 Comments

Filed under Halloween Season

22 responses to “LE DIABLE AMOUREUX (1772): HALLOWEEN STORY

  1. Nadia

    You have such a romantic way of describing these old stories. Are you married?

  2. Nyssa

    Oh what a different kind of Halloween story!

  3. Pingback: BEST OF OCTOBER 2019 | Balladeer's Blog

  4. Cara

    HAhAHAHAHAahaha the camel spirit is my latest favorite picture. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve EVER seen. I can never see a camel as malevolent. They’re so chilled out! I LOVE the camel drawing.

    And what is it about transportation that makes it part of seduction?! Alladdin for example with that magic carpet, and in the ‘Twilight’ series Edward jumping through the trees with Bella.

    And the way some people use their cars or bikes as tools of seduction.

    I guess, if you don’t have your own methods of ‘transportation’ you become vulnerable to the seduction industry.

    This was a lot of fun to read. That guy Don Alvaro, didn’t know how to say NO MEANS NO.

    It was sad that the author was executed. But it’s something that his book has been read by you all the way in 2019.

    Just like somewhere in 4050, when I’m long gone, you’ll be reading and reviewing my book.

    (I truly and really don’t mean to pressure you to read my books – I’m not even bothered about that anymore. It was just a funny thought, that’s all.)

  5. Pingback: Camel Ghost – Illustration – Cara Has Angels

  6. Macey

    I’ve never come across this story before but it is great for Halloween!

  7. Alanna

    Such an eerie but almost romantic story.

  8. Halina

    Interesting but not very romantic.

  9. Richard Brody

    Brilliant! I enjoy the way you dig up such obscure things.

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