The Sin of Knowledge

The Sin of Knowledge
By Theodore Ziolkowski

“In the course of the fifty years following his death Faust had become notorious as a negative exemplum for a life of sexual degeneracy, charlatanry, and sorcery. Inevitably, stones so varied and popular began to be collected. In the university town of Erfurt a group of tales relating Faust’s adventures among the students was assembled; in Nuremberg around 1570 a schoolmaster named Christoph Rosshirt recorded another set of tales in a manuscript notebook. In the early 1570s many of these stories were gathered into the so-called Wolfenbuttel manuscript, a work that appears to have been circulated widely in expensive manuscript copies. (Because this manuscript is so close to the subsequently printed text, it is commonly assumed that both of them go back to a slightly older common source, though probably not in Latin as formerly believed; the author seems to rely wholly on German works.) But none of these earlier compilations were published. It was not until 1587 that Johann Spies in Frankfurt am Main, hitherto known primarily as the publisher of Lutheran tracts, brought out the Historia, which enjoyed an instantaneous popular success and provided the basis for the myth of Faust that was to engage the Western consciousness and conscience for the next four hundred years.”

Pasted from <>


The Sin of Knowledge is available from Amazon:

The sin of knowledge: ancient themes and modern variations (At Amazon)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.