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Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
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Doctor Faustus (1604)

by Christopher Marlowe

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3,866551,984 (3.75)198
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» See also 198 mentions

English (50)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Draggy in parts and bloody brilliant in others... ( )
  Amelia1989 | Jun 10, 2019 |
And interesting take on the Medieval morality play. ( )
  Velmeran | Jan 26, 2019 |
"Faustus", like all Marlowe's plays, is a fascinating exercise but far from a satisfying one. This seems like a cheap and somewhat naive review to give to one of the most well-known works of the Western canon, but there you go.

After the uneven poems-cum-plays of "Dido" and "Tamburlaine", Marlowe achieved comedic success with "The Jew of Malta", even though it too runs on far too long. "Faustus", which followed, certainly doesn't have THAT problem, and it continues Marlowe's streak of dominating, fascinating leading men. Faustus is one of those roles which is a delight for an actor, as he quite literally sees all of human history, and what lies beyond, but the play is a challenging work. First of all, Marlowe was a pioneer, working in a medium that was far from fully-formed. "Faustus" is a significant step away from his early plays, which are glorified poems at times, and it's only in Faustus' (justified) opening and closing monologues that we get something too lengthy for the stage.

The story itself - the learned man giving up his future life for present glory - would be replayed again and again in both Western and Eastern dramas, and it's not hard to see why. Faustus' most beautiful moments include, of course, his "Is this the face that launched a thousand ships?" speech, and his final realisations that he is truly damned. The rest of the play is never quite certain what it wants to be. The comic interludes are (pardon the pun) damn funny, even if they sometimes feel like they wandered in from another play. The Representational elements in Faustus' good and evil angels are - understandably - removed from some modern productions. The play, intriguingly, chooses to portray very little of Faustus' 24-year orgy, instead showing us only the beginning and ending of his deal with Lucifer. It's an enjoyable production, but an uneven one. While Marlowe had managed to tame his language for the stage, he created something lacking in subtlety and still a long way from the bravura productions that Shakespeare was about to start writing for the London stage.

This review - in retrospect - is less than coherent, and I apologise. I don't want to seem like a complete dolt for so blithely dismissing "Faustus". It is a fascinating play done well, and has at its core a character whose desires and fate will probably remain relevant and terrifying as long as we live. As in all of Marlowe's work, moments of pure beauty rise to the surface and the comedy was archetypal for what was to follow with other authors. Yet to me, it still feels slight. It has neither "The Jew of Malta"'s dramatic unity nor "Edward II"'s sheer breadth of character. Instead, it is Marlowe's most crowd-pleasing mature play. A pioneer for its time, and still of merit to the Western canon (whatever you believe that to be) but - sad to say - since eclipsed. ( )
1 vote therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
It's one of those plays you need to read through and reread to get the whole idea of what's going on. My first opinion of it was that it didn't make sense and was poorly put together, but once I read it again and allowed myself to get sucked in and think "ok lets say this is possible" I felt like I had a better understanding and can actually say I kinda like the play now. The characters are similar for a reason, and I know this, but it bothers me. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Oct 4, 2018 |
This edition comes with an almost oppressive number of notes and commentaries and background pieces and questions to think about. A good read, but I imagine a stage production would be disturbing. ( )
  pgchuis | Sep 6, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (124 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christopher Marloweprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barnet, SylvanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Birde, WilliamAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dürer, AlbrechtCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kocher, Paul H.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kowalski, JakobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lunt, R. G.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rowley, SamuelAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seebass, AdolfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zarate, OscarIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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First words
Chorus: Not marching now in fields of Thrasymene where Mars did mate the Carthafinians, nor sporting in the dalliance of love in courts of kings where state is overturned, nor in the pomp of proud audacious deeds intends our Muse to vaunt his heavenly verse: Only this, Gentlemen, we must perform, the form of Faustus' fortunes good or bad.
Quotations
Faustus: Was this the face that launched a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Not to be confused with the novel by Thomas Mann.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486282082, Paperback)

One of Western culture's most enduring myths recounts a learned German doctor's sale of his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power. Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe transformed the Faust legend into the English language's first epic tragedy, a vivid drama that abounds in psychological insights and poetic grandeur.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:45 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

The enduring tale of the brilliant mind of a mortal man--and the soul he sells to the devil--is now available in this new edition that includes a revised introduction, a history of the play on stage, and an updated bibliography by editor Sylvan Barnet of Tufts University. Also includes commentaries by Richard B. Sewall, G.K. Hunter, David Benington, and John Russell Brown. (Plays/Drama).… (more)

» see all 10 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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