Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Deals with the Devil (Abridged): Twelve Terrifying Tales About Men Who Made Pacts With the Devil [Amazon, Abebooks, Local Library] ed Basil Davenport, with stories from, I had trouble finding the list, so this may include sombunall from this abridged volume and may include some from the prior unabridged edition, in no particular order: J Sheridan LeFanu, Max Beerbohm, Lord Dunsany, Anthony Boucher, John Collier , John Masefield , Henry Kuttner, Theodore R Cogswell, Ford McCormack, Arthur Porges, Isaac Asimov, Guy Maupassant, Stephen Vincent Benét, and L Sprague De Camp.
The abridgment of this volume consists in the omission of some stories from a larger earlier edition; the remaining stories are intact. Davenport’s chatty introduction is an admirable overview of the history of diablerie, given its brevity. The tales are an entertaining assortment, more given to the topics of riddles, trickery, gambles, and bargains, than to matters of metaphysics, demonology, or diabolism. I was especially interested in the Dunsany story “A Deal with the Devil,” and while I did enjoy it, it was far out of the orbit of the high-fanastic Dunsany that I relish. Two selections are preoccupied with betting on horse races, and many involve a three-wishes mechanism little different than yarns that might feature djinni or leprauchans. On the other hand, a few do emphasize gruesome punishments which the central characters want to avoid, or — in more than one case — to administer. Some of the later stories in the book tend toward the science-fictionally satirical, and remind me a little of the work of James Morrow.