The Full Wiki

Faust: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

This article is about the fictional character. For other uses, see Faust , Faustian , and Faustus .

Faust or Faustus (Latin for "auspicious" or "lucky", but also German for "fist") is the protagonist of a classic German legend who makes a pact with the Devil in exchange for knowledge. Faust's tale is the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical works, such as those by Christopher Marlowe, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Mann, Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, Charles Gounod, Gustav Mahler, Mikhail Bulgakov, Kamelot, F. W. Murnau and Jan Švankmajer. The meaning of the word and name has been reinterpreted through the ages. "Faust" (and the adjective "Faustian") has taken on a connotation distinct from its original use, and is often used today to describe an unsavory, ultimately self-destructive arrangement; the proverbial "deal with the devil". It can also refer to a unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

The Faust of early books—as well as the ballads, dramas and puppet-plays which grew out of them—is irrevocably damned because he prefers human to divine knowledge; "he laid the Holy Scriptures behind the door and under the bench, refused to be called doctor of Theology, but preferred to be styled doctor of Medicine."

Plays and comic puppet theatre loosely based on this legend were popular throughout Germany in the 16th century, often reducing Faust to a figure of vulgar fun. The story was popularized in Englandmarker by Christopher Marlowe, who gave it a classic treatment in his play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. In Goethe's reworking of the story 200 years later, Faust becomes a dissatisfied intellectual who yearns for "more than earthly meat and drink."

Sources of the legend

The first printed source on the legend of Faust is a little chapbook bearing the title Historia von D. Johann Fausten, published in 1587. The book was re-edited and borrowed from throughout the 17th century. Other "Faustbooks" of that era include:

  • Das Wagnerbuch (1593)
  • Das Widmann'sche Faustbuch (1599)
  • Dr. Fausts großer und gewaltiger Höllenzwang (Frankfurt 1609)
  • Dr. Johannes Faust, Magia naturalis et innaturalis (Passau 1612)
  • Das Pfitzer'sche Faustbuch (1674)
  • Dr. Fausts großer und gewaltiger Meergeist (Amsterdam 1692)
  • Das Wagnerbuch (1714)
  • Faustbuch des Christlich Meynenden (1725)

The 1725 Faustbook was widely circulated, and also read by the young Goethe.

The origin of Faust's name and persona remains unclear, though it is widely assumed to be based on the figure of Dr. Johann Georg Faust (c. 1480–1540), a magician and alchemist probably from Knittlingenmarker, Württembergmarker, who obtained a degree in divinity from Heidelberg Universitymarker in 1509, although scholars such as Frank Baron and Dr. Leo Ruickbie contest many of these previous assumptions.

Some sources also connect the legendary Faust with Johann Fust (c. 1400–1466), Johann Gutenberg's business partner, or suggest that Fust is one of the multiple origins to the Faust story.

The character in Polish folklore named Pan Twardowski presents similarities with Faust, and this legend seems to have originated at roughly the same time. It is unclear whether the two tales have a common origin or influenced each other. Pan Twardowski may be based on a 16th-century German emigrant to the then-capital of Poland, Krakówmarker, or possibly John Dee or Edward Kelley. According to the theologian Philip Melanchthon, the historic Johann Faust had studied in Kraków, as well.

Other related tales involving a pact between man and the devil include the legend of Theophilus of Adana, the 5th-century bishop; and the plays Mary of Nijmegen (Dutch, early 15th century, attributed to Anna Bijns) and Cenodoxus (German, early 17th century, by Jacob Bidermann).

An edition of Goethe's Faust relates that there were two alchemists which were combined into the protagonist: Agrippa and Paracelsus. Paracelsus introduced eight metals into medicine (Source: Stillman: Paracelsus (1926) and invented the concept of the synthetic drug. He seemingly cured three syphilitics by using mercury which made his reputation.

Later it was discovered that all of his patients in Basel died within a year of being treated by him. (Source: Pachter: Paracelsus- Magic into Science. The serpent is a symbol of both mercury and the Devil, found on the old AMA logo.

Parcelsus' works were copied by his fellow Rosicrucians and became the foundation of much scientific investigation. The Dictionary of Scientific Biography calls him "a great doctor, whose influence has been enormous."

Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

The early Faust chapbook, while already in circulation in Northern Germany, found its way to England, where in 1592 an English translation was published, The Historie of the Damnable Life, and Deserved Death of Doctor Iohn Faustus credited to a certain "P. F., Gent[leman]". Christopher Marlowe used this work as the basis for his more ambitious play, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (published c. 1604). Marlowe also borrowed from John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, on the exchanges between Pope Adrian and a rival pope. Another possible inspiration of Marlowe's version is John Dee (1527–1609), who practised forms of alchemy and science and developed Enochian magic.

Goethe's Faust

Goethe's Faust complicates the simple Christian moral of the original legend. A hybrid between a play and an extended poem, Goethe's two-part "closet drama" is epic in scope. It gathers together references from Christian, medieval, Roman, eastern and Hellenic poetry, philosophy and literature; ending in a Faust who is saved, carried aloft to heaven, as Mephistopheles looks on.

The composition and refinement of Goethe's own version of the legend occupied him for over 60 years (though not continuously). The final version, published after his death, is recognized as a great work of German literature.

The story concerns the fate of Faust in his quest for the true essence of life ("was die Welt im Innersten zusammenhält"). Frustrated with learning and the limits to his knowledge and power, he attracts the attention of the Devil (represented by Mephistopheles), who agrees to serve Faust until the moment he attains the zenith of human happiness, at which point Mephistopheles may take his soul. Faust is pleased with the deal, as he believes the moment will never come.

In the first part, Mephistopheles leads Faust through experiences that culminate in a lustful and destructive relationship with an innocent and nubile woman named Gretchen. Gretchen and her family are destroyed by Mephistopheles' deceptions and Faust's desires and actions. The story ends in tragedy as Gretchen is saved and Faust is left in shame.

The second part begins with the spirits of the earth forgiving Faust (and the rest of mankind) and progresses into allegorical poetry. Faust and his devil pass through the world of politics and the world of the classical gods, and meet with Helen of Troy (the personification of beauty). Finally, having succeeded in taming the very forces of war and nature, Faust experiences a single moment of happiness.

Mephistopheles, trying to grab Faust's soul when he dies, is frustrated when Gretchen intervenes, recognizing the value of Faust's unending striving.

It is also the only tale involving Faust which has Gretchen as a character.


Goethe's Faust was the source material for at least two successful operas: Faust by Charles Gounod and Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito. It has inspired numerous additional major musical works, such as the "dramatic legend" The Damnation of Faust by Hector Berlioz, Robert Schumann's Scenes from Goethe's Faust, the second part of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8, and Franz Liszt's Faust Symphony. Ferruccio Busoni composed an opera entitled "Faust". It is also mentioned and influences the novel The Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick. Ogan Gurel's novel Waves (2009), as a 21st century version of Faust, was strongly influenced by Goethe's work, as well as symphonic metal band Kamelot's two concept albums Epica and The Black Halo.

Translations into English

In September 2006, Oxford University Press published an English, blank-verse translation of Goethe's work entitled Faustus, From the German of Goethe, now widely believed to be the production of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The translation, which was published anonymously in 1821, was previously attributed to George Soane. Despite this evidence, the status of the translation as the work of Coleridge is still disputed by some Coleridge authorities.

Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus

Thomas Mann's 1947 Doktor Faustus: Das Leben des deutschen Tonsetzers Adrian Leverkühn, erzählt von einem Freunde adapts the Faust legend to a 20th-century context, documenting the life of fictional composer Adrian Leverkühn as analog and embodiment of the early 20th-century history of Germany and of Europe. The talented Leverkühn, after contracting venereal disease from a brothel visit, forms a pact with a Mephistophelean character to grant him 24 years of brilliance and success as a composer. He produces works of increasing beauty to universal acclaim, even while physical illness begins to corrupt his body. In 1930, when presenting his final masterwork (The Lamentation of Dr Faust), he confesses the pact he had made: madness and syphillis now overcome him, and he suffers a slow and total collapse until his death in 1940. Leverkühn's spiritual, mental, and physical collapse and degradation are mapped on to the period in which Nazism rose in Germany, and Leverkühn's fate is shown as that of the soul of Germany.

See also



  • Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, Edited and with and introduction by Sylvan Barnett (1969, Signet Classics)
  • J. Scheible, Das Kloster (1840s).

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address