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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Something that is faustian is suggestive of Faust, especially his abandonment of values in order to pursue knowledge, as in "He was a truly Faustian archaeologist, not above sleeping with other researchers to find out what leads they were following."

It refers to a wider interpretation of the events of Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In part one of Goethe's Faust, the central character's pact with the devil allows him to have energy, life and youth unless he becomes so entranced by the passing moment that he wishes that things will never change. When Faust stumbles unthinkingly into that wish, his world and his life are forfeit to Mephistopheles.

Faustian may be:

  • A work of fiction, or a fictional character, may be cited as being "Faustian" if it involves a literal or proverbial "Deal with the Devil", such as that portrayed in the story of Faust. Such dealings are often referred to as "Faustian bargains", and as such there is usually short term gain (e.g. fame, fortune, knowledge) for long term pain (i.e. the person's soul). See Works based on Faust.
  • In history, since Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West the Faustian society is synonymous with the western world. The word is chosen since Spengler believed the entire western society follows a trajectory similar to that of Faust.
  • It is also mentioned that Victor Frankenstein in the novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley, is considered a Faustian character with his "deal with the devil" to gain strength and energy to pursue and kill his creation.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Faustian" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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