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Faust

Faust is the protagonist of a popular tale that has been used as the basis for many different fictional works. It concerns the fate of a learned gentleman, Johann Faust, who summons the Devil, who in the tale is usually called Mephistopheles, and offers to sell him his soul if the Devil will serve him for a given period of time. A contract signed in blood is drawn up and is given the diabolical signature: ultimately, in most later versions of the tale Faust's soul remains his at the end of the devil's term of service.

The tale has some basis in history. Dr. Johann Georg Faust (approx. 1480 - 1540) was a German alchemist who lived in the village of Staufen[?], now called Breisgau[?]. He was accused of practicing black magic and put to death in 1540. A German chapbook about his sins was translated into English in 1587, where it came to the attention of Christopher Marlowe. Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, in turn, was studied by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and as such the fictional Faust came to overshadow the historical Faust, about whom little is known.

Works which retell or allude to the Faust tale include:

Table of contents

Drama

Prose

Poetry

Opera

Music

Movies


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Faust is also the name of a German krautrock[?] band. See Faust (band). Faust is also the German word for fist, although the name "Faust" may be related to Italian "Fausto" rather than the German word.



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