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Literature / I, Lucifer

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For the Peter O'Donnell novel of the same name, see Modesty Blaise.

"I, Lucifer, Fallen Angel, Prince of Darkness, Bringer of Light, Ruler of Hell, Lord of the Flies, Father of Lies, Apostate Supreme, Tempter of Mankind, Old Serpent, Prince of This World, Seducer, Accuser, Tormentor, Blasphemer, and without doubt Best Fuck in the Seen and Unseen Universe (ask Eve, that minx)..."

I, Lucifer is a novel written by Glen Duncan in 2003. It's told entirely from the perspective of Lucifer himself while he's inhabiting the body of one Declan Gunn. God has unexpectedly decided to offer the fallen angel a chance at redemption. The deal is simple: inhabit a mortal body for a month, remain relatively sin-free, and then you're allowed entry to paradise once more.

Lucifer accepts this proposal, but with no intention of living a quiet mortal life. Instead, he views the month of mortal existence as a "holiday" from the running of his evil enterprise, intent to indulge every imaginable pleasure of the flesh. However, in an attempt to show the world what it's like to be him, old Luce finds himself slowly learning what it is to be mortal.

A book filled to the brim with clever subversions and dark humor. This quote from critic Stella Duffy sums the book up pretty well: "Lucifer is charming and sexy and very, very funny. Glen Duncan knows way too much and says it far too well... I fear for his soul."

Provides Examples Of:

  • Allergic to Evil: Angelic Pain. Committing evil acts is literally harmful to Angels. Lucifer's constant agony is unthinkable when you realise the untold ages of corruption and harm he's caused.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Lucifer may well be the Trope Codifier, at least in western society.
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Lucifer actually says the Old Man's quite the artist when it came to creating some of the stunning views he takes in through human eyes. He even admits being impressed at "The Creation of Adam".
  • Attempted Rape: Lucifer intends to rape a woman he's followed home. But is prevented before the woman even sees him by intervening angels.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Averted. According to Lucifer, stunningly beautiful people are actually far more likely to end up corrupted and in Hell than the merely pretty, or the average looking, or the outright ugly.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Partly the reason for Lucifer's fall but during the course of the story he does this quite a bit and actually refers to God as "The Old Man."
  • Cassandra Truth: Satan casually informs several people of his actual identity and they either laugh it off as dark comedy or eccentricity on his part. This includes the people who want to make a movie about him.
  • Comfort Food: After all the fancy cuisine Lucifer samples, he claims that his favorite food is ice cream.
  • Deal with the Devil: It's mentioned that the contracts signed when selling your soul are merely symbolic. The physical act of signing is all that matters.
  • Defiant to the End: Despite being confronted with the knowledge that he will be left in the void alone for eternity, Lucifer opts to launch another assault on heaven and reject the chance for redemption as a mortal.
  • Determinator: The fact is, regardless of his motives, Lucifer shows a level of dedication few could ever hope to dream of. His every act of defiance against God causes him unspeakable pain. Yet he persists to rebel against his angelic nature.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Lucifer states that humans are largely bisexual as well, even if they need the right circumstances to bring it out.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Animals can sense Lucifer when he takes over other creatures and actively avoid him. As such he enjoys the novelty of being able to approach animals without incident whilst inhabiting his new body.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: Eternity, alone in a infinite void. Lucifer must have really made an impression on the old man when he won't even grant him oblivion.
  • Faustian Rebellion: The very notion of getting out of his deals or tricking him is mocked by Lucifer. However one young hedonist inadvertently defeats him after asking to see a drawing of the crucifixion of Jesus. Upon seeing it he refuses to sign and joins a monastery to repent his sins for the rest of his days.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Lucifer commits and/or claims credit for a number of cruel and evil acts, but he is also very well spoken, witty, and even charming in a twisted way.
  • The Final Temptation: The temptation of Christ, according to Lucifer, never happened as stated in the bible. Satan simply showed Jesus the future his sacrifice would create (mixed with X-rated shots of Mary Magdalene) and even managed to shake his faith. God interrupted by striking the vision with lightning and Jesus promptly told Lucifer to "fuck off" leaving the devil accusing God of cheating.
  • God in Human Form: Lucifer still has considerable powers even in a mortal shell. Raphael was this but despite still having some angelic powers they will fade in time.
  • Grand Theft Me: Played straight and subverted. Declan's body is taken over by Lucifer but that was allowed by God as he was technically about to die. However Luce does mention he can easily possess animals as they have no souls. Humans on the other hand are extremely tough (and painful) to possess as there's already a soul in there.
  • The Hedonist: Lucifer puts his new body through its paces shall we say.
  • Hell: Luce enjoys being coy about the exact nature of eternal damnation be it fire & brimstone, different for everyone or even pretty fun. He does mention at some stage he grew bored of the torturing and then changed its set-up. So it could have evolved over time or he's simply toying with the reader.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Lucifer draws a picture of Christ's Crucifixion, it's a masterpiece, in fact it's so good it inspires someone not to sell his soul and repent his sins. Made worse by the fact Lucifer didn't need to make this offer, this man was certain for hell anyway. He was simply sealing the deal. Instead he provides the inspiration for his redemption. It was a mistake that wouldn't be repeated.
  • Humans Are Bastards / Humans Are Special: Both aspects of humanity are explored throughout the book, with Satan being overwhelmed by the things humans take for granted.
  • Hypocrite: The Old Man gets called out on this several times. Notably, interfering in Christ's test of faith, brainwashing Eve, and then there's the whole issue of punishing Satan for all time in the void.
  • It Amused Me: Lucifer claims that there is no such thing as evil for the sake of evil. Everyone who commits evil has some motivation, even if it is simply for the pleasure of it.
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: Not so much averted as utterly destroyed. Not only does Jesus come off as weird and very creepy in heaven, he also comes off as a bit of a know-it-all prick.
  • Kick the Dog: Not surprising, given that he is the Devil. After someone shows him a genuine, selfless act of kindness, Lucifer simply quips about how selfless she is and promptly swipes her purse.
  • Literal Genie: Lucifer doesn't do this every single time, in fact he says he always honors the exact deal he made. It's not his fault you failed to be specific in how he goes about this. For instance he once made a deal to make a man more wealthy than his rich father. Satan simply had his contacts make his father go bankrupt.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Luce refers to himself as this directly whilst also noting that he did not have a part in the song, that was all Mick and Keith.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: No matter how many souls he ensnares and humans he corrupts Lucifer's victory will be short lived. In fact when he's told God will take Hell and Earth back into his being come Armageddon, erasing them from existence, Satan is informed he will be left alone in the void should he not seek redemption.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: The Archangel Michael mockingly tells Lucifer they are so very much alike.
  • Number of the Beast: Shows up when Satan has money placed in his account. It amuses Lucifer as intended.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Lucifer frequently calls God out on his more jerkass actions being justified only because of this.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Angels (Fallen or otherwise) are not humanoid beings with wings. They do not in fact possess a natural physical form and instead exist as an incorporeal presence. Furthermore they cannot die and Lucifer even mentions the exact amount of angels created. Demons are still technically angels but their essence has been corrupted by "Angelic Pain" due to their sins.
  • P├Ždo Hunt: One of Lucifer's favorite evil acts appears to be pedophilia, not so much the act but the corruption caused to people by their anger towards pedophiles.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Lucifer freely uses racial slurs and has zero compunctions discussing Country Matters (and that's just the tip of the iceberg).
  • Pride: Lucifer constantly laments his huge reputation for being vain. It's especially annoying to him in regards to it being largely seen as the reason for his fall. Ironically some angels seem to happily throw this in his face constantly while acting very self-important themselves.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: This is the Prince of Darkness after all. Examples range from actual conflict in heaven, with a second assault beginning at the end of the novel and of course Lucifer's day-to-day tempting of souls to hell.
  • The Reveal: Complete with plenty of Mind Screw, Raphael informs Lucifer that humans cannot hear him nor be corrupted by his unseen influence. The evil they commit is simply of their own making.
    Raphael: However you've thought of it my dear, you've been wrong. The evil that men do - and I know there's no way of preparing you for this - is nothing to do with you.
  • Sense Freak: Lucifer and angels in general have none of the five senses when not in a human body, when he takes possession of Declan Gunn's, Lucifer does nothing else but enjoy every sensation a human body has to offer, even the most "insignifant" ones (such as: several masturbations, spending hours enjoying the bubbles of a bath and just smelling odours, staring at the sky for several minutes, etc).
  • Significant Anagram: Declan Gunn. Glen Duncan. Author Avatar, indeed.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Way down the cynical end of the scale. This is not light reading.
  • The Starscream: Lucifer believes that Astaroth will attempt to move against him should he learn of his "holiday" in typical Starscream fashion. In the end it's Uriel, who Lucifer actually thought loyal, moving against him in his absence and Astaroth who "fights loyally for the preservation of his sovereignty".
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Several major events mentioned in the Bible are told from Luce's viewpoint with him telling it differently or simply pointing out the hypocrisy involved.
  • Take That!: The devil suspects Elton John is the hideous crossbreed of a human and an angel.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Lucifer refers to many characters as "dear", "darling" and "lovey" while attempting to corrupt them or outright threatening them. Naturally, he means everyone some measure of harm.
  • Unreliable Narrator: You'll find few sane people willing to trust every word Satan says. He even says as much himself. Depending on your view he's either writing this book to draw in more souls (lying the entire time) or has genuinely sympathetic qualities.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Lucifer, when experiencing the world through a human's senses, takes utter delight in even the most mundane things. When witnessing the sky from an airplane window while he's in awe, he can't believe some people aren't even bothering to take in the view.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Eve. She isn't compared to a Hollywood icon or super model as Lucifer outright states she'd put any of these women to utter shame. This does appear to be a side effect of her personally being created by God and living in the Garden of Eden, however; Luce mentions that humans got significantly less attractive after they got the boot.