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see FaustFaust
, Faustus
, or Johann Faust
, fl. 16th cent., learned German doctor who traveled widely, performed magical feats, and died under mysterious circumstances.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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).


Legenda 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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


fiend to whom Faust sells his soul. [Ger. Lit.: Faust]
See: Devil


the cynical, malicious devil to whom Faust sells his soul. [Ger. Lit.: Faust, Payton, 436]
See: Evil
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Mephisto
a devil in medieval mythology and the one to whom Faust sold his soul in the Faust legend
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
That Marlowe's specific, Mephistophelean magic matches the stories of alleged witchcraft in Lancashire speaks to a common "truth," indicating that the devil's mechanisms were widely known and accepted.
I have interpreted Amy and Laurie in terms of Jo's need to "shut up" and exile the dangerous Mephistophelean impulses within her.
White plays the Mephistophelean representative of all our basest instincts.
Kurtz is a Mephistophelean Englishman in the Congo who holds much power over the natives and British soldiers in the Congo.
According to Smith, Lewis, complete with a "Mephistophelean beard from which his long cigar jutted and an evil grin to match" was clearly up to the task of playing "Shakespeare's motiveless arch villain." (22) The Monitor referred to Lewis as a "Louisiana-born genius" and a "unique lago," whose "big coup" was the way he pounded his piano to "punctuate his attack on Othello's susceptibilities," making iniquity and "jealousy palpable to the audience." (23) The Toronto Daily Star called him "genuinely diabolical" and went on to claim that it was "astonishing what new implications of evil" Lewis could find in his role.
This ordeal, plus his inexplicable survival (why him and not the others?), has driven him--as is clear from his rambling conversations with fellow patients and the clinic's Mephistophelean doctor--to question all human values as well as the existence of the divine.
Lewis (whom he was glad to have as an opponent in the late '30s), that he made war on the rich, and that the early Brains Trust had a Mephistophelean influence (they were basically only speech-writers, and they didn't last long at that).
We love Bush over here." He nods at the UCF girls, all avatars of lo-rise fashions, midriffs tanned rotisserie gold, and he shoots me a Mephistophelean look.
Eliot imagines the Mephistophelean surgeon's approach with
But, perhaps more important, the end of the Mephistophelean pact with repressive regimes in the region also served the rather less liberal policy objectives supported by some key strands of U.S.
Rather than prate over the rules, they could accept Kant's "Mephistophelean maxim" of an ironic materialism behind our moral actions (41) and distinguish, with Aristotle, "the phronimos ["phronesis phronesis is ordered to the 'end and highest good'"] from the merely clever (deinos) agent, who is equally adept at pursuing "'unscrupulous' ends" (O'Neill ; Nicomachean Ethics).
Albert-Marie Schmidt notes that "The Cagastrum, which pursuing a clearly Mephistophelean goal--to use Goethe's words--not only wears out and limits the capacity of terrestrial objects to progress to completion but also maliciously feigns and apes them.