Author(s): Johann Wolfgang von GoetheDownload
Goethes ‘Faust’ ist das Menschheitsdrama par excellence: Die ungeheuerliche Suche nach dem, was die Welt im Innersten zusammenhält, führt auch den Gelehrtesten an die Grenzen des Verstandes. In ‘Der Tragödie zweitem Teil’ (1832) verdichtet sich diese Suche zum Streben nach dem universellen, unverbrüchlichen Bündnis von Leben und Kunst. Bis heute besticht der ‘Faust’ durch seine fulminante Kraft und Tiefe und seinen Reichtum an Bezügen. Zu Recht gilt die Tragödie als das bedeutendste Werk der deutschen Literatur.
Some Reviews: 1453 in Goodreads.com
This contains both Faust part 1 and part 2 and its a play that was something special to read mostly because Goethe’s prose was so poetic, great use of languge, words. That and its a very smart,classic in its use of ancient Greek,Roman myts,literature. It was never hard, challenging to read because the alliusions, references didnt feel forced, too abstract except early in Faust part 2. The first two acts of the second part was little harder to read and too much going on at once. That was the only reason i thought about rating this book 4 stars and not 5 because the rest was brilliant writing.
The satire that attacked religion, other power sources and most of Goethe’s enemies was a big highlight and much more interesting than the surface story of Faust and his dealings with the devil. It was hard to care about Faust because he was typical romantic literature period arrogant hero without the human sides,weaknesses of say Werther. Mephistopheles kept the story interesting with his wit and magical powers. The burlesque games, humor was an interesting contrast against the clever construction of the play with all the symbolism, literary games.
My immediate impression upon first reading Faust was, “Wow, this is Scandinavian death metal without the deafening noise.” In other words, Faust is the coolest thing ever.
As I continued reading, I was struck by the liveliness of the poetry. Faust isn’t words sitting static on a page, but a living thing, thanks to Goethe’s ability to vary his rhythms and rhyme schemes to convey different moods, characters and atmospheres. The language is dynamic, artful and often brilliant.
Oddly, Faust reminds me of the sitcom Community’s tendency to use pop culture references. Faust’s second part in particular makes reference to the pop culture icons of Goethe’s time. Liberal references to Greek mythology, Shakespeare, Lord Byron, the Bible and others are sprinkled throughout. One passage even reminded me of the theme song from Laverne and Shirley!
I rated Faust four stars because the second part in particular is filled with long digressions that are hard to follow, laced as they are with references that are no longer common, or at least unfamiliar to me. Certainly, I could acknowledge my own ignorance and give Goethe his full due, but I’m a man and that means I have a frail ego to protect. Hence my taking of one star from what is otherwise an enjoyable and masterful creation.
The back of the book: “Goethe’s Faust is a classic of European literature (…) The whole is a symbolic and panoramic commentary on the human condition and on modern European history and civilization. (…) preserves the poetic character of the original and its tragic pathos”
The actual book (which contains all of the above, but also):
– “they spluttered and they farted”
– “I’d be delighted to mix up a cupful for him \ but if he’s not prepared, this stuff could fuck him up”
– At some point someone creates a cute tiny homunculus who has funny adventures
– There’s a diss contest between sirens and harpies
– Mephistopheles, the coolest demon you’ll ever find, is just having a great time through the batshit crazy acid trip that is the second part of the book. He even becomes horny for some angels by the end – “You’re all so pretty I’d like to kiss you […] you’re so / desirable and cuddly as a kitten”
I enjoyed this quite a bit! Goethe’s take on Faust is taken a great deal more seriously than Marlowe’s version.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the (heavily abridged) Part 2, though.
In part 1, Faust seduces, then abandons Gretchen, leaving her to be an unwed mother in an era where that gets you branded as a prostitute. She ultimately commits infanticide on her (possibly evil) baby and goes a bit mad.
Yet, in Part 2, her undying, immortal love for Faust saves him from his punishment in hell, despite the fact that he never repented from or ever seemed to regret any of the deaths he’d caused? Give me a break.
That ending might make more sense in context, if I’d read the full version rather than the abridged version, but as it’s portrayed in this translation it hardly makes sense at all.
Goethe was introduced to me as the Shakespeare of Germany, and that seems an apt comparison to me, based on this one singular experience I have had with him. As with Shakespeare, Goethe sculpts a familiar story into an original, humorous and modern-feeling (“modern” in this case referring to 19th Century Germany) play.
It is a crowd-pleaser with live poodles, actors in monkey costumes, blasphemous humor, illicit sex and one suave Mephistopheles; but it is also treasure-trove of social commentary, much of which derives from the same sources as the pleasure and intrigue: The poodle embodies evil, which from afar masquerades as fluffy companionship; the men-in-monkey suits, lackeys to witches and the devil, could be stand-ins for men (clergy?) who stupidly follow evil leaders (popes?); the blasphemous humor, most of which is attributed to Mephistopheles, highlights the contraditions and shortcomings of religious practice; the illicit sex, which Faust has with Gretchen, reveals society’s double-standard for men versus women who commit romantic transgressions; and Mephistopheles, well, … It’s easy to say you’ll thumb your nose at the Devil, but when he stands on your doorstep, looking not so scary and evil after all, when he promises you exactly what you’ve always wanted…?
An important and required read for anyone who thinks they know European literature.