Carlo Testa. Desire and the Devil: Demonic Contracts in French and European Literature. New York: Peter Lang, 1992. viii, 192 pp. $39.95. "This book is entirely labor-donated; it has received no institutional support-financial or otherwise" (p. vii). Whatever irritation, alienation or freedom is enunciated in this first sen- tence of the Acknowledgements, the point is obvious: Testa made no Pact with any higher powers or their emissaries to get his book into print. As Testa explains in his discussion of Goethe's Faust, the threat of the Pact is that it will immobilize desire. The great task is to carry out desire without immobilizing it. In the traditional operation of the myth, immobiliza- tion is what happens to Faust, but not so in the case of Goethe's Faust who overcomes his compromise with the demonic by his "self-less ... elan" (p. 26). My point here is that Testa considers writing-his own included-to be an act of desire. I find this aspect of Testa's book to be its most interesting feature. He has entered into de- sire's uncanny territory, but avoided the immobilizing contract with a tainted Other. The claim of labor-donation may strike one as hubris, but I can
Canadian-American Slavic Studies – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1996
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