Vernon Lee’s Satan the Waster: Pacifism and the Avant-Garde
Part essay collection, part shadow-play, part macabre ballet, Satan the Waster: A Philosophic War Trilogy (1920) is one of Vernon Lee’s most political and experimental works. This preoccupation with passion, emotions, and the memories of emotions that define multidimensional realities is a thread found overtly and metaphorically throughout Satan the Waster.8
In its initial 1914 composition and even more so in the 1920 revision, the Ballet is written in imitation of a medieval masque, a dramatic form which Lee had studied since her early career when she traced the origins and dramatic conventions of the Italian commedia dell’arte in Studies of the Eighteenth Century in Italy (1880) and in Euphorion (1884). 9 Lee uses color, sound, and light to describe the eerie luminescence and seductiveness of Satan and his nephew Ballet Master Death.