A violent epic leaping from the cosmological to the infinitesimal, Satan Repentant is a modern-day drama of revenge, resentment, and remorse, telling a new myth of what would happen if Satan tried to apologise and atone for all his crimes. Through that story, it explores ideas of power, of authority to judge right and wrong, and the dignity and shame that can be attached to admitting fault or insisting on self-righteous innocence.
To prove his remorse, Satan is compelled to endure a test: become human, and live an entire life without succumbing to evil. The challenges this conceit imposes for human morality, theology, the notions of free will and good versus evil, precipitate a frantic and often violent battle over an individual’s right to their own identity.
A tour de force. Michael Aiken, like Milton, Blake and Mary Shelley before him, has created a language, entirely free of place and time, in which to take on dramatically, and with great intelligence and wit, some of the abiding questions - moral, social, theological - at the centre of our culture.
– David Malouf
This long narrative poem, accessing the possibilities of a lyric essay, revisits the wasted potential of Lucifer’s character and redirects his fate. Reflecting on the limits of humanism, agnosticism, art-making and materiality, Aiken makes a violently beautiful case for eternity without dogma. As much Marvel comic as Miltonian epic, Satan Repentant is virtuosic in its command of line and syntax, its unstopping action of speech and drama. It is neither heroic nor tragic; with restrained, anachronistic shifts in register, and the most fantastic scenes of abject gore, Aiken drags us up and down the poorly lit goat tracks between Hell, Heaven, and Earth.
– Bonny Cassidy
Praise for Satan Repentant:
At the darkest corners of this ambitious, sometimes flawed, yet never uninteresting exercise, Aiken’s Satan suggests the time for a rebellion against the lazier and self-aggrandising assumptions baked into the Humanist model has now come. It is time for someone — or something — to give voice instead: “Lucifer gathered what was left, and invite a language to speak of itself."GEORDIE WILLIAMSON, THE AUSTRALIAN
Then you read a book like Michael Aiken’s Satan Repentant – a work possessed of a devilish energy, intellect, and glorious control of the utterly grotesque, humanly divine, and divinely human – and you recall how joyful and entertaining poetry can be.DAVID DICK, AUSTRALIAN BOOK REVIEW