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The Short Form

“The Devil's Church”

Joakim Marie Machado de Assis

Excerpt

To finish off his work, the Devil believed it would be appropriate to destroy all human solidarity, seeing that the concept of love for one's fellow man was a serious obstacle to his new institution. He showed that this concept was the simple invention of parasites and insolvent businessmen, for one should show nothing but indifference–and in some cases, hate or contempt–toward one's fellow man. He went so far as to demonstrate the notion of one's “fellow man” was erroneous by quoting these lines from the cultured and refined Neapolitan priest, Fernando Galiani, who wrote to one of the Marchionesses of the old regime: “To hell with fell men! There are no fellow men!” The only situation in which the devil allowed someone to love his fellow man was that of loving another man's wife, because this kind of love had the peculiarity of being nothing more than the individual's love for himself. And as some disciples may have found that such a metaphysical explanation escaped the comprehension of the masses, the Devil had recourse to an apologue: one hundred people take out shares of stock in a bank, for common operations, but each shareholder is only concerned with his own dividends. That is what happens with adulterers. This fable was included in the Devil's book of wisdom