The Devil Hath Met with His Match

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Alexandra Grinevsky’s illustrations for Machiavelli’s L’Archidiable Belphegor.

From the collection of Richard Sica:

01 Alexandra Grinevski, illus. for L'Archidiable Belphegor, trans.  of Machiavelli

02 Alexandra Grinevski, illus. for L'Archidiable Belphegor, trans.  of Machiavelli

03 Alexandra Grinevski, illus. for L'Archidiable Belphegor, trans.  of Machiavelli

04 Alexandra Grinevski, illus. for L'Archidiable Belphegor, trans.  of Machiavelli

05 Alexandra Grinevski, illus. for L'Archidiable Belphegor, trans.  of Machiavelli

06 Alexandra Grinevski, illus. for L'Archidiable Belphegor, trans.  of Machiavelli

07 Alexandra Grinevski, illus. for L'Archidiable Belphegor, trans.  of Machiavelli

08 Alexandra Grinevski, illus. for L'Archidiable Belphegor, trans.  of Machiavelli

09 Alexandra Grinevski, illus. for L'Archidiable Belphegor, trans.  of Machiavelli

10 Alexandra Grinevski, illus. for L'Archidiable Belphegor, trans.  of Machiavelli

11 Alexandra Grinevski, illus. for L'Archidiable Belphegor, trans.  of Machiavelli

The title of the post comes from the 1647 English translation of Machiavelli’s novella, The Devil a Married Man: or The Devil Hath Met with His Match.

Wikipedia gives a summary of the book:

The story derives from Medieval Slavic folklore (and gave birth to a German and North-European version featuring a Friar Rush). In Machiavelli’s account, Pluto notes that crowds of male souls arrive in Hell blaming their wives for their misery. He summons a parliament, which decides to send the former-archangel-now-arch devil Belfagor to the Earth to investigate. Belfagor assumes a human form as one Roderigo of Castile, and comes to Florence with a hundred thousand ducats; he marries a woman named Onesta Donati. Soon her vanity and wasteful spending, and the demands of her relatives, reduce him to poverty and debt. He flees imprisonment, pursued by creditors and magistrates; rescued by the peasant Gianmatteo, Belfagor grants his rescuer the power to drive devils out of possessed women — which eventually causes major problems for the peasant in turn. In the end, Belfagor gratefully returns to Hell, denouncing the institution of marriage.

Read about the illustrator in the previous post Alexandra’s Aquatints. (Note her name is spelled both Grinevsky and Grinevski.)

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Previous posts from Richard Sica’s collection:

Alexeieff’s Queen of Spades
Suffocating in the Villa des Charmes
A Voyage to the Island of the Articoles
L’Abbé de l’Abbaye
Alexeieff’s Fall
Les Fleurs du Skull
La Danse Macabre
The Sphinx
Ex Bibliotheca Macabrum


Will Schofield is the editor of 50 Watts (original name: A Journey Round My Skull) and Writers No One Reads. More from this author →