Mephistopheles(redirected from Mephistopholis)
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, or Johann Faust
, fl. 16th cent., learned German doctor who traveled widely, performed magical feats, and died under mysterious circumstances.
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(possibly of Greek origin:“hating the light,”from me,“not,” phos,“light,”and philos, loving; by another version, of Hebrew origin: mefits,“the destroyer,”and tofel,“a liar”) , the name of one of the spirits of evil, a demon, a devil; most often, according to legend, the name of the fallen angel Satan.
The folklore and fictional literature of various countries and peoples have frequently made use of the theme of a pact between a demon—a spirit of evil—and man. Sometimes poets have been drawn to the biblical story of the fall and expulsion from paradise of Satan and sometimes to his revolt against god (Milton, Byron, and M. lu. Lermontov). Not uncommon are farces, not far removed from folklore sources, in which the devil plays the role of an imp, a gay trickster who often falls into a trap. In a philosophical tragedy by Goethe, who reinterpreted motifs of a German folk legend, Mephistopheles is the tempter and antagonist of Faust. Pushkin made use of the figure of Mephistopheles. Mephistopheles is the Devil in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and T. Mann’s Doctor Faustus —the embodiment of moral nihilism. M. Bulgakov’s Woland is a Mephistophelian figure in The Master and Margarita; he and his retinue are grotesque spirits of evil who punish people for their vices. The image of Mephistopheles has also inspired painters (Delacroix and M. Vrubel’) and composers (Gounod, Berlioz, Liszt, A. G. Rubinstein).
REFERENCESLegenda o doktore Fauste. Edited by V. M. Zhirmunskii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.
Lakshin, V. “Roman M. Bulgakova Master i Margarita.’”Novyi mir, 1968, no. 6.
Milner, M. Le Diable dans la littérature française, vols. 1-2. Paris, 1960.
Kretzenbacher, L. Teufelsbiindner und Faustgestalten im Abendlande. Klagenfurt, 1968.
M. A. GOL’DMAN