Faustbuch

“…And it came to pass between twelve and one o’clock in the night that a great blast of wind stormed against the house, blustering on all sides as if the inn and indeed the entire neighborhood would be torn down. The students fell into a great fear, got out of their beds and came together to comfort one another, but they did not stir out of their chamber. The innkeeper went running out of the house, however, and he found that there was no disturbance at all in any other place than his own. The students were lodged in a chamber close by the rooms of Doctor Faustus, and over the raging of the wind they heard a hideous music, as if snakes, adders and other serpents were in the house. Doctor Faustus’ door creaked open. There then arose a crying out of Murther! and Help! but the voice was weak and hollow, soon dying out entirely.”

“When it was day the students, who had not slept this entire night, went into the chamber where Doctor Faustus had lain, but they found no Faustus there. The parlor was full of blood. Brain clave unto the walls where the Fiend had dashed him from one to the other. Here lay his eyes, here a few teeth. O it was a hideous spectaculum. Then began the students to bewail and beweep him, seeking him in many places. When they came out to the dung heap, here they found his corpse. It was monstrous to behold, for head and limbs were still twitching.”

Faustbuch Manuscript version.

The Faust Book

The Faustbuch (Faust book) is one of the earliest surviving collection of tales about Faust.

Written by an anonymous author, it generously attributes (or assigns) the narrated stories to a certain (and real) Doctor Faustus, of Weimar. According to the story, Doctor Faustus was a superior student of Theology, who turned from God, embraced the occult sciences and tragically entered into a pact with the demon Mephistopheles at the eventual cost of his life and his soul.

Previously available in manuscript form, it was later printed in the late 16th century (1587 imprint from the publishing house of Johann Spies, Frankfurt), and versions of both are available on the Internet today.

The later printed version is denser, and more inclined towards Christian admonition, whereas the (translated, online) manuscript version is more direct and “pure.”

It is possible that a translation of the Spies printed version made its way to England where Marlowe used it as inspiration for his work, and then it may have made its way back to Germany in the form of a puppet play to inspire both Goethe and Lessing.

“It was in his sixteenth year that Doctor Faustus undertook a tour or a pilgrimage, instructing his servant that he should conduct and convey him whithersoever he would go. He journeyed invisible down to Rome, where he went unseen into the Pope’s Palace and beheld all the servants and courtiers and the many sorts of dishes and fine foods that were being served.

For shame! he remarked to his spirit. Why did not the Devil make a Pope of me?

Yes, Doctor Faustus found all there to be his ilk in arrogance, pride, much insolence, transgression, gluttony, drunkenness, whoring, adultery and other fine blessings of the Pope and his rabble. This caused Doctor Faustus to observe:

Methought I were the Devil’s own swine, but he will let me fatten for a long while yet. These hogs in Rome are already fatted and ready to roast and boil. ”

Faustbuch Manuscript version. Not likely written by a Catholic.

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