A history of revenge and handbook for “serving it up nice and cold to that lying, cheating bastard.”
Breezy and snazzy, The Down and Dirty Dish on Revenge does a lot with what seems on the surface to be a thin premise. Eva Nagorski looks at revenge in literature, through history, and across different cultures, with almost a sociologist’s eye. She peppers the book with real-life anecdotes of revenge both creative and mean-spirited. And she closes the book with a chapter on the virtues of forgiveness as the best revenge of all.
A lot of the stories that Nagorski presents don’t seem to me to be revenge per se–more like justice, if you ask me! I love it when a cheater gets his or her comeuppance, particularly in the form of a creative divorce settlement, as in the woman who won all her husband’s baseball collectibles then sold them on Ebay. I’m less a fan of the people who make sex tapes public–though I suppose the people who make sex tapes to begin with should know the risk involved.
Christian theology teaches forgiveness because even righteous anger can quickly turn sinful, and because only God can enact true justice. However, I do think it is possible to teach someone a hard lesson, if your aim is to bring them to repentance. Revenge may feel good at the time, but it will never be as satisfying as true forgiveness.