- Faust Faust, or Faustus Faustus (f[^a]s"tus).,
Doctor Johann Faust, a person born at Kundling (Knittlingen),
W["u]rtemberg, or at Roda, near Weimar, and said to have died
in 1588. He was a man of licentious character, a magician,
astrologer, and soothsayer, who boasted of performing the
miracles of Christ. It was believed that he was carried off
at last by the devil, who had lived with him in the form of a
[Century Dict. 1906]
Note: The legends of Faust were gathered from the then recent traditions concerning him in a book which appeared at the book-fair at Frankfurt-on-the-Main in 1587. It was called "The History of Dr. Faustus, the Notorious Magician and Master of the Black Art, etc." Soon after its appearance it became known in England.
A metrical version of it into English was licensed by Aylmer, Bishop of London, before the end of the year. In 1588 there was a rimed version of it into German, also a translation into low German, and a new edition of the original with some slight changes. In 1689 there appeared a version of the first German Faust book into, French, by Victor Palma Cayet. The English prose version was made from the second edition of the original, that of 1588, and is undated, but probably was made at once. There was a revised edition of it in 1592. In 1592 there was a Dutch translation from the second German edition. This gives the time of the carrying off of Faustus by the devil as the night between the twenty-third and twenty-fourth of October, 1538. The English version also gives 1538 as the year, and it is a date, as we have seen, consistent with trustworthy references to his actual life. Marlowe's play (' The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus ') was probably written in 1588, soon after the original story had found its way to England. He treated the legend as a poet, bringing out with all his power its central thought -- man in the pride of knowledge turning from his God. --(Morley, Eng. Writers, IX. 254.) This play was brought to Germany about the beginning of the 17th century, and, after passing through various developments on the stage, finally became a puppet-play, which is still in existence. Lessing wrote parts of two versions of the story. M["u]ller, the painter, published two fragments of his dramatized life of Faust in 1778. Goethe's tragedy (which see) was not published till 1808. Klinger published a romance "Faust's Leben, Thaten und H["o]llenfahrt" (1791: Borrow translated it in 1826). Klingemann published a tragedy on the subject (1815), Heine a ballet "Der Doctor Faust, ein Tanzpoem" (1851), and Lenau an epic "Faust" (1836). W. G. Wills adapted a play from Goethe's "Faust," which Henry Irving produced in 1885. Calderon's play "El Magico Prodigioso " strongly resembles Goethe's and Marlowe's plays, though founded on the legend of St. Cyprian. [Century Dict. 1906]
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.