Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S (Anglais) Relié – 21 novembre 2000
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Consider this: I was at a local coffee place with a friend who was leaving town. He ran into the coffee shop's lending library (take a book and either return it or replace it for the other interested readers around you) and came back out with a book that he said had caught his eye during his many excursions for caffeine.
The book was Jeremy Leven's 1982 "Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S."
Quite a mouthful of a title.
I nodded politely and began edging toward the door.
But my friend's description of the book ("Some doctor develops a computer program that believes it is Beelzebub, and proceeds to give it therapy") intrigued me. So, after a few weeks of tossing and turning, I decided to return downtown and check out the book.
The story is a little more complicated than that. Dr. Sy Kassler does indeed see a computer that may or may not turn out to be Lucifer, Prince of Darkness. But there are many hilarious twists and turns to this 500-page tome, and many different aspects to the plot.
SATAN: The computer, if that is what it is, is the brainchild of the genius Dr. Leo Szlyck. Szlyck is called to connect and create a mysterious bunch of wires and synapses to result in ol' Mephistopheles. But it is during the course of therapy that the Dark One asks us to ponder, "Think about what it must take to dare to be God's enemy."
THE UNFORTUNATE DR. KASSLER: Sy Kassler is indeed unfortunate. We first meet him coercing an STD-beleaguered, only-Italian speaking girl into his bed. Then there is his subsequent love affair with and marriage to the commitment-shy Vita, who turns psychotic after the birth of their first child. Kassler leads the life of a tragic figure. And now he's treating Satan? God help him. Literally.
EVERYTHING ELSE: There's Lupa, the beautiful woman who falls in love and has an affair with the computer; Sam Zelazo, Kassler's boss and Szlyck's archnemesis and a multitude of other plotlines and characterizations that make the on-cover comparison to novels like Joseph Heller's "Catch-22" seem very apt.
It is a story that is very much about Satan's psyche and those of the people surrounding him. Leven compiled a classic comedic think piece with "Satan," and philosophers and comedy seekers alike should seek it out.
Author Robert Heinlein has a quote on the back of the book that is so appropriate to the tone and mood of the book that it deserves to be the last word:
"'Satan' is terrific! I could not put it down. However, Jeremy Leven will be lynched if they ever catch him."
The novel is actually constructed in a beautiful homage to Dante's "Inferno," right down to the internal movement of the story, which spirals into each of Dante's levels of Hell, allowing the well-drawn main characters to commit each of the sins that would lead them to that specific level. If you can read this book in conjunction with "The Inferno," you'll appreciate its many levels even more. This may be a tall order, but it is truly worth the investment of time necessary.
I have read this book nearly once a year since I first found it in 1984. It's remained fresh every time.
The story is really about Dr. Kassler, who has about the most wretched life possible, but never gives up. It's entertaining and uplifting in a very horrible sort of way, like watching Silence of the Lambs* and being really, really glad it's fiction.
*OK, not that horrible. But you get my drift, I think.