From Paradise Lost to Blood Meridian, the Canadian writer Michael Crummey picks his favourite tales of bickering and brawl
In the grip of that idiosyncratic illness, feuders are immune to logic, threats, entreaties, bribes, empathy, and common sense. Like love, a feud creates a parallel universe where normal rules don't apply.
And, like love, it makes for compelling reading – you might as well try to look away from a traffic accident.
1. Paradise Lost by John MiltonThe mother of all feuds: God v Satan and his rebel angels who would rather rule in hell then serve in heaven. This is arguably the greatest poem in the English language, though it fails in its stated purpose to "justify the ways of God to man". The bad boy is the star here: eloquent, headstrong, and compelling. Milton's God, by contrast, is legalistic, domineering and dry as dust.
3. Moby-Dick by Herman MelvilleFeuders have more than a whiff of religious fanaticism about them, and Melville's Captain Ahab is one of the fiercest in literature. His pursuit of the whale to avenge the loss of his leg (an injury he's convinced was wilfully inflicted by Moby Dick) becomes an all-consuming madness. And Ahab has the seductive gifts of a fundamentalist preacher, leading even the most level-headed and sane among his crew to adopt the madness as their own. Thar she blows!
Read the full list at The Guardian.