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Related to mephistophelian: mephistophelean, Millenarians


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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
In both texts, there is the typical Faustian doubling of the protagonist as Goodman Brown meets his mephistophelian counterpart in the forest, with whom he travels into the American wilderness as Faust travels with Mephistopheles to Brocken Mountain.
Bertman did not disappoint those who expected iconoclasm, giving Dvorak's morality tale of the danger of pursuing dreams a darker than usual edge, turning the witch Jezibaba (in the powerful vocal presence of mezzo Irina Mishura) into a Mephistophelian schemer with little red horns and terrific legs.
Because Norman Mailer (re)tells the story of Yeshua in the time of Yeshua and from the point of view of Yeshua--and, by the way, this narrative device in itself is, as far as I am aware, an original gambit on his part that gives his version of the story a special character--he does not have the liberty Bulgakov takes to embody the Devil in a Mephistophelian guise and must deal with the Devil directly.
He was wearing his Mephistophelian smile on the set while he was playing with a bull terrier champion, brought to the studio by his proud owner, along with all the cups and prizes he had won at the beauty competitions they had participated in.
And both episodes savour strongly of evil and corruption, Hawthorne's because of Chillingworth's affinity with Satan, and Hardy's because of Dare's strong Mephistophelian characterization.
Linbach reiterates this motif throughout the book, calling the anarchist 'arch-fiend in human form' and his deed a 'mephistophelian crime'.(10) Sir Robert le Camps evokes the same association in the title of his book Desrues the Anarchist or The Devil's Son, an appellation he uses frequently in the course of the story.(11) Another example of this phenomenon occurs in Richard Henry Savage's The Anarchist.
Or as he responds to Brown, a Mephistophelian man-of-business who happens to suggest that maybe Wyatt's distemper follows from his failure to be given credit by the critical establishment: "--Damn it, it isn't, it isn't.
The technologically confident Myth of the Clean Slate, as Stephen Toulmin calls it (175 ff.), has failed dismally to supplement our culture's lost optimism: the suggestion that science is our hope for the future has a Mephistophelian ring.
Instead, ours is often today a deeply troubled faith, racked by a fore-boding about Mephistophelian tradeoffs, wondering whether, for example, genetic manipulation or global climate change foretell a darker, not a brighter, human future.
Meanwhile Darley, insulated in feminine domesticity in the Cyclades with Melissa's child, does not begin to change until a homosexual unexpectedly appears on the island and shatters his dreams "with his Mephistophelian air" (B18).
In Stein's version of the Faust tale, the doctor's Mephistophelian bargain allows him to harness the power of electricity, and House/Lights, which is directed by Elizabeth LeCompte, takes electricity and light as currents both literary and visual.