marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

The Faust Legend

There are two main Faust works for the English speaking world:  Marlowe's and Goethe's.

Discussing the uses of folklore in the myths.  The puppet shows that were Marlowe's original source.  How Marlowe's Faust never repents but is always looking for a technique to bring out him out of his known danger.  One panelist pointed out that playing pranks on the Pope was thought of as good behavior, but he still ends up damned.

I brought up Bearskin -- nickel summary:  hero makes a deal with the Devil not to bathe, cut his hair, or pray for seven years, and he gets an ever-filled purse of gold; if he dies, he loses his soul, and if he survives he's home free, and when he survives and marries a youngest daughter, her older sisters kill themselves out of envy, so the devil gets two souls not one -- and one panelist riffed on Goethe, because Goethe also had him make a bet, not a pact.  Some discussion of bet with the devil.

Blues singer whom folklore said had made a deal with a devil.  (I've heard that he did vanish for a time and come back with stunning playing skills -- and that the most likely explanation was that he was cooling his heels in jail somewhere, which gave him time to practice and explains why he kept his mouth shut.)

I mentioned the deals with the devil in Prospero's Daughter trilogy (by L. Jagi Lamplighter) and how in that the devil has to press you to do evil because selling your soul won't do the trick.

In a prolonged discussion about natural magic vs. summoning demons, and how Faust had exhausted the first before turning to the second, and an audience member wanted to know what we were talking about.  After much talk, we came to conclusion that it was basically to natural philosophy what engineering is to science.  Of course, at the time, especially for the more esoteric techniques such as burying a plate of the right planetary type to draw its influence, it was often held to be actually signaling demons. 

To be quite safe, Prospero sank his books.  Though to be sure that dealing with Ariel, an elemental, was natural, he did admit to opening graves and so to necromancy.

Prospero's America is one book I may look up.  New London was actually founded to be a new London, by a man with alchemical interests, and when he was governor, there were no witch hunts in Connecticut.  Quite possibly -- to avoid notice. 

The president of Harvard featured in a Sorcerer's Apprentice type tale, where the students were summoning demons and it got out of hand.  He, being a clergyman of course, could save the day.

I mentioned checking for hooves before a bargain at the end.  At which point we realized that someone there was actually wearing bear paw slippers.  It was an intriguing moment even with the comments that they are not hooves.
Tags: boskone, myths and legends, world-building: creatures, world-building: enchantment, world-building: magic (technique), world-building: non-human characters, world-building: religion

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