Colin Davies’ A-Z of Horror: F is for Faust.

This week I have a contractual obligation to write the A-Z of horror. This is one of the most influential tales to have shaped scary stories, legends and lawyers for centuries, but I would say that, it’s in my contract to do so. If you want to make anything of yourself, you need to make a deal…

 

F is for Faust

 

The story of Faust is one you will recognise even if you don’t know the name. Faust is a German scholar who, bored with everything he already knows, does a deal with the Devil’s representative Mephistopheles, and, for an agreed period of time, with the demon by his side, is able to learn more than anyone has ever known, use magic and seduce a young girl, which for a crusty academic is quite the achievement.

 

Doing a deal with the Devil, selling your soul for your deepest desire, is now such a common trope that any contract where the terms seem stacked in favour of the other side, but you sign it anyway just to get what you want, is known as a Faustian Deal. Music contracts, movie deals, writers and even salespeople all have stories like Faust.

 

Robert Johnson, the 1930’s bluesman and major influence on modern rock ‘n’ roll, is said to have gone to the crossroads to sign on the dotted line. It is long believed that his song Crossroad Blues (1936) tells the tale of how he regrets damning himself to hell. Clive Barker has also used the Faustian deal in his works. Hellbound Heart (1986) which became the film Hellraiser (1987) tells the story of finding pleasures beyond this realm by dealing with the Cenobites aka, the Priests of Hell. He also has a really nice version of the legend in the short story The Yattering and Jack, first published in The Books of Blood Vol. 1 (1984) in which a demon is sent to drive Jack mad as punishment for one of Jack’s ancestors who reneged on a Faustian Deal.

In my own works the character of Ms Nikita is not opposed to getting souls to sign a contract or two. So, remember, always read the damning small print. The Devil is in the detail.

 

 

All you have to do is sign

Get it now
Be the best
Own the world
Above the rest.

Stand in the light
Be worshipped as divine
But never forget
Your soul is mine.

Have all you desire
Fulfil your needs
Just sign here
At the bottom of these deeds.

Now take it all
Live above the line
But never forget
Your soul is mine.

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