The inimitable Dr. Boli has written his first novel, The Crimes of Galahad, the scandalous tale of one Galahad Newman Bousted, the self-proclaimed “wickedest man in the world.” Under the influence of a review of a book by the wicked French author the Conte de Baucher, he rejects the mawkish sentiments and morality of his shopkeeper father and determines to lead a life of evil: to wit, to concern himself not at all with morality but only with his own self-interest, rationally understood.
I don’t want to give the game away; if you’re familiar with Dr. Boli, you’ll know that things probably aren’t entirely what they seem, and that the Good Doctor has Views on where true rational self-interest will lead. The book is both funny and surprising, and I enjoyed watching how it played out. Here are a few quotes from the text:
To persist in evil requires dedication and perseverance. At every step, the temptations to do good are numerous, and at times nearly overwhelming.
The truly evil man, which is to say the enlightened man, does not prize continence for its own sake; but any virtue may be a tool in the pursuit of that which he desires. This is an important principle that every aspiring evildoer ought to take to heart: the truly evil man does not hesitate to practice virtue when doing so conduces to his advantage.
I do not recall a single novel in which the action was confined to repeated sales of identical commercial goods.
Money can buy the satisfaction of almost any lust, whereas lust almost invariably eats up money. To the young man pursuing a life of wickedness, I have this advice to give: always put greed before lust when indulging your petty sins.
Nothing so effectually robs a man of his wickedness as this insidious passion: though lust be accounted a sin, it too often proves a cunning trap that pulls a man inexorably downward, away from his true self-interest, and toward that disinterested sort of love that desires the good of its object. The wickedest man in the world, giving in to his lust, may find himself positively virtuous before he knows it.
What a strange thing it is that a man who, in the eyes of all society, would be condemned as a vicious criminal if he ravished an unmarried woman, can be, by a few words spoken in a church, made into a paragon of virtue, with the uncontested right to ravish the same woman whenever he pleases!
One final thought. Although the book made me laugh, it’s by no means a farce; in retrospect, it’s a serious meditation on the relationship between virtue, goodness, and grace, on the limitations of purely human virtue, and on human nature and the natural law. I suspect I’m going to be pondering it for some while.