Faustus: The Life and Times of a Renaissance Magician
By Leo Ruickbie
Five hundred years ago a legend was born. The seeker after forbidden knowledge is lured into signing a pact with the Devil. He enjoys the fruits of his deal in wild adventures, riotous high-living and in the arms of beautiful women, but cannot escape his end in the fiery clutches of Satan. That is the story that has inspired genius, high art and popular culture around the world, from Beethoven to Cradle of Filth. Hundreds of performances of Goethe’s Faust are staged nightly. Souls are even put up for auction on eBay. The legend of Faustus has assumed a life of its own. But is it the real story? In the first major biography in five hundred years, Dr Ruickbie reveals the truth behind the infamous legend and uncovers the true identity of the man who scandalised sixteenth century Europe. Against all our wildest imaginings Faustus was not a charlatan, nor was he in league with the Devil. We should not think of him as the pact scribbling diabolist, but as a renaissance magician, albeit controversial and condemned by his peers. In an age of spiritual hunger, economic collapse, war and prophecies of doom – an age not unlike the Renaissance – it is a story for our times.