Friday, November 27, 2015

Page 106: Devil to pay

The phrase “devil to pay” has its origins in the classic German legend of Faust, who sold his soul in a pact with the devil…the original “Faustian bargain.” The legend was popularized by Christopher Marlowe (The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, 1604) and Goethe (Faust, written between 1772 and 1831).

Christopher Marlowe's The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (1604).
The popularity of the Faust legend led to coining the nautical term for caulking (“paying”) the seams (“devil”) in a ship’s hull. See http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/devil-to-pay.html. In The Billionth Monkey, it is used in its modern colloquial sense for “serious trouble resulting from some (in)action,” and is another #DevilReference.

In 1926, F. W. Murnau [of Nosferatu fame] directed a silver screen adaptation of Goethe's Faust.
It was distributed by MGM, which was also handling Rex Ingram's adaptation of The Magician (1926),
based on Somerset Maugham's novel of the same name whose villain is inspired by Aleister Crowley.
Image source: News from the Boston Becks.
Bonus entry: Destiny Jones shows off her smarts when she tosses off the phrase Summa cum risu. In graduation ceremonies, students who graduate at the top of their class with the best grade point average receive the distinction summa cum laude, “with highest honors.” Naturally, Destiny figures that those at the bottom of her class must graduate summa cum risu, “with greatest ridicule.” But as the joke goes, “Do you know what you call the medical student who graduates at the bottom of his class? Doctor.”

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