William Rose



Average rating: 3.97 · 239 ratings · 43 reviews · 51 distinct worksSimilar authors
Poets and Artists: O&S June...

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Pleadings Without Tears: A ...

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The Strange Case of Madelei...

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The Tin Owl Stories

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PoetsArtists #28

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“The story of the man who sells his soul to the powers of evil in return for material gain, is one of the most ancient in the history of humanity, for when the light of self-consciousness first began to dawn in man, he no doubt desired to know more than his limited intellect could tell him, or to possess something that the world could not or would not give him. When he looked around, and was frightened at his own littleness, he created gods for his protection, and these gods he endeavoured to propitiate, until they became his tyrants. They were the symbols of his hopes and fears, so that when he was propitiating his gods he was stereotyping the limitations of his own mind. And the most important of those limitations was that he must not look beyond his manufactured gods for the hidden causes of things. A profound instinct nevertheless urged him to probe beyond, and the resulting spiritual unrest, which has always manifested itself spasmodically in the human race, underwent various personifications at different times. The elements of the Faust story were already present in the Garden of Eden--the Tree of Knowledge, the personification of Evil in the Serpent, and the Woman who was tempted to overstep the bounds of what was permitted by the orthodox authority, in order to grasp the Forbidden Fruit. It is significant for the peculiar construction of the human mind, that it was always the Spirit of Evil which led the way to spiritual emancipation. In order to give concrete expression to his almost unconscious thirst for greater knowledge, man had to pretend to himself that this craving was pernicious. His very attempts to free himself from superstition provide the strongest evidence of the tortuous way in which his mind had to work, for it could only rise to a higher conception of its own worth by playing a game of self-deception.

The Faust problem was not peculiar to the Christian era. The Jews had their Solomon and the Greeks their Prometheus, but it was only at the end of the Middle Ages, when the old world was in the melting-pot, that there arose the most famous of all these legends, the most curious element in which is perhaps the fact that there was at the source of it an actual person.”
William Rose, History of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Doctor John Faustus: Together with the Second Report of Faustus, Containing His Appearances and the Deeds of Wagner



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