How Faust Beat the Devil

Black OpiumIn the temple, there was no altar nor statue nor anything of mystery. The fairies are not decked in precious stones and carry no wands or distaffs.

These are simple women, or at least, they appear to be. Their supple bodies are scattered over the couches in an abandonment of repose. Their serene mouths smile toward the invisible, and their clear eyes follow, without tiring, the energetic flight of dreams, hovering under the sacred vault.

Between the flagstones of flaxen-colored shell, singular plants take root; and it is a bizarre flora which blooms throughout the temple, like wheat in a field. Tall stalks rise, weighted down with long, wide leaves; the flowers sway, deep as cups, and black.

Sometimes, with a slow gesture, one of the Vampires stretches forth her bare arm and plucks the nearest flower. She breathes it in for long, then lifts it to her lips and sucks the black juice which pearls upon the edge of each petal.

Faust has exclaimed: I am here. But the Fairies have not heard him, and have not gazed in his direction. They are dreaming, and eating the flowers of the black poppy.

—Claude Farrère
Black Opium

I am currently writing the introduction for the re-publication of this classic short story collection. I assume it will be out early next year. I’m sure I will tell you. This is from the short story “The End of Faust,” and I have to say, it is the best thing ever done with the Faustian legend.

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