Faust: Ein Mythos und Seine Bearbeitungen

Front Cover
Goethe's masterpiece and perhaps the greatest work in German literature, "Faust" has made the legendary German alchemist one of the central myths of the Western world. Here indeed is a monumental Faust, an audacious man boldly wagering with the devil, Mephistopheles, that no magic, sensuality, experience or knowledge can lead him to a moment he would wish to last forever. Here, in "Faust," "Part 1," the tremendous versatility of Goethe's genius creates some of the most beautiful passages in literature. Here too we experience Goethe's characteristic humor, the excitement and eroticism of the witches' Walpurgis Night, and the moving emotion of Gretchen's tragic fate.

This newly revised edition, which offers Peter Salm's wonderfully readable translation as well as the original German on facing pages, brings us "Faust" in a vital, rhythmic American idiom that carefully preserves the grandeur, integrity, and poetic immediacy of Goethe's words.

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About the author (1995)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in Frankfurt am Main. He was greatly influenced by his mother, who encouraged his literary aspirations. After troubles at school, he was taught at home and gained an exceptionally wide education. At the age of 16, Goethe began to study law at Leipzig University from 1765 to 1768, and he also studied drawing with Adam Oeser. After a period of illness, he resumed his studies in Strasbourg from 1770 to 1771. Goethe practiced law in Frankfurt for two years and in Wetzlar for a year. He contributed to the Frankfurter Gelehrte Anzeigen from 1772 to 1773, and in 1774 he published his first novel, self-revelatory Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers. In 1775 he was welcomed by Duke Karl August into the small court of Weimar, where he worked in several governmental offices. He was a council member and member of the war commission, director of roads and services, and managed the financial affairs of the court. Goethe was released from day-to-day governmental duties to concentrate on writing, although he was still general supervisor for arts and sciences, and director of the court theatres. In the 1790s Goethe contributed to Friedrich von Schiller ́s journal Die Horen, published Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, and continued his writings on the ideals of arts and literature in his own journal, Propylšen. The first part of his masterwork, Faust, appeared in 1808, and the second part in 1832. Goethe had worked for most of his life on this drama, and was based on Christopher Marlowe's Faust. From 1791 to 1817, Goethe was the director of the court theatres. He advised Duke Carl August on mining and Jena University, which for a short time attracted the most prominent figures in German philosophy. He edited Kunst and Altertum and Zur Naturwissenschaft. Goethe died in Weimar on March 22, 1832. He and Duke Schiller are buried together, in a mausoleum in the ducal cemetery.

Howard Brenton trained in the fringe theaters of the late 1960s, which was known for its radical experiments in political consciousness-raising and an absence of theatrical scenery, stage venues, and formally constructed, full-length plays. After leaving Cambridge, he worked with a group in Brighton until the London production of Revenge in 1969 brought him a commission from Portable Theatre, an important touring company founded by two other Cambridge graduates, David Hare and Tony Bicat. For them, Brenton wrote Christie in Love, a stylistically disorienting confrontation of the Rillington Place murderer and the police. Brenton also participated in a seminal collaboration of the early 1970s, Lay-By, and joined Hare in writing a chronicle of British profiteers, Brassneck 1973. In the same year, Magnificence (1973), with its famous nihilistic conclusion-an accidental detonation that kills both a radical terrorist and his innocent victim-found its way to the stage of the Royal Court. Eventually Brenton left the fringe behind and found new scope for his ideas on the stages of the establishment. The National Theatre produced his study of an industrial strike, Weapons of Happiness (1974), and, most notoriously, The Romans in Britain (1980). Violent scenes in this epic of colonialism, which parallels the Roman occupation of Britain to the English presence in Northern Ireland, drew the wrath of citizens' groups, and a lawsuit. More recent subjects include nuclear arms in The Genius (1983), ironically challenging the optimism of Bertolt Brecht in Galileo, which Brenton translated, and the relationship of power and journalism in Pravda (1985), a collaboration with Hare. One of Brenton's more recent works is Diving for Pearls (1989), a political thriller.

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