Milton and the Rise of Russian Satanism


276 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-5795-0
DDC 891.7'009382




Alexandra Sosnowski is an associate professor of Slavic Studies at the
University of Manitoba.


Satan, in one form or another, has been a familiar figure in Russian
literature. Yet the origins of the demonic tradition, as the author
indicates, have so far been untouched by Soviet scholars and have not
received much attention in the West. This book offers a thorough and
comprehensive study, the first in any language, of the life of
Milton’s Satan in Russia. It appears that, unlike Goethe’s
Mephistopheles, he left his impression both on popular culture and on
formal literature before and after the 1917 revolution.

The book is ambitious, often provocative, well written and well
organized. It opens with a short preface followed by an equally concise,
though informative, introduction. The latter examines the rise of
Russian satanism and the vitality of the Prince of Darkness in Russian
culture. The two major parts of the book comprise five chapters each,
and deal chronologically with the Russian career of Milton’s Satan.
The first section examines his presence during the Enlightenment. The
second part traces the fate of Satan of Paradise Lost from the Romantic
era until the Russia of Stalin. In the conclusion, Boss attempts to
determine whether Satan is likely to survive the collapse of Communism
and Russia’s religious awakening in its Marxist form, as

The remainder of the volume contains valuable appendixes, a useful list
of abbreviations, notes, an extensive bibliography, and an adequate
index. Boss has done a good job of connecting Milton’s Satan with
Russian culture. Without a doubt this volume will be of interest to both
specialists and nonspecialists of Russian and English literatures, as
well as to those interested in Russian popular culture. I am convinced
that readers, especially those without Russian, will find themselves
eager to return to this problem in Boss’s forthcoming three sequels to
the present volume.


Boss, Valentin., “Milton and the Rise of Russian Satanism,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024,