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Faust : erster Teil by Johann Wolfgang von…

Faust : erster Teil (original 1808; edition 1974)

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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3,915251,881 (3.91)70
Title:Faust : erster Teil
Authors:Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Info:Frankfurt am Main : Insel Verl., 1974.
Collections:Your library

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Faust, Part One by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1808)



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English (21)  German (2)  Portuguese (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Part One of Faust was one of the few books in my life that forced me to put on a pot of coffee and give up a night's sleep to finish it. The young Goethe simply nailed it. When I then got a hold of Part Two (written by the much older Goethe) and sat down with it, I was stunned. His style had completely changed; I never would have guessed it was by the same author. I'm not judging Goethe or the work as a whole, that would be arrogant and ridiculous given his stature as a writer, but simply noting that the experience of reading those two parts of Faust raised serious questions about critical editorial / literary analysis research which makes claims about authorship. It also convinced me that as a writer I should finish what I start. The idea of a long work being as organic and unified as a grapefruit--as John Gardner puts it--instinctively appeals to me. ( )
1 vote VicCavalli | Dec 8, 2018 |
(original review, 2004)

I’m planning on spending a few weeks on Goethe’s Faust in multiple translations and as much of the German as I can manage, supplemented by hundreds of pages of notes and commentary.

I first read the book while in high school in the totally un-annotated Bayard Taylor translation from Modern Library – one of the texts I’m currently reading. I’m still pretty fond of Taylor’s version – with some exceptions generally preferring him to Walter Arndt in the Norton Critical Edition. Taylor’s a relatively local boy – born in Kenneth Square, PA where the town library carries his name.

One thing I recall from that ML edition is that a few lines were Bowdlerized with dashes. For example, this song sung by Faust and Mephistopheles with two witches:

FAUST ( dancing with the young witch)
A lovely dream once came to me;
I then beheld an apple-tree,
And there two fairest apples shone
They lured me so, I climbed thereon.
Apples have been desired by you,
Since first in Paradise they grew;
And I am moved with joy, to know
That such within my garden grow.
MEPHISTOPHELES ( dancing with the old one)
A dissolute dream once came to me
Therein I saw a cloven tree,
Which had a————————;
Yet,——as 'twas, I fancied it.
I offer here my best salute
Unto the knight with cloven foot!
Let him a—————prepare,
If him—————————does not scare.

I imagined something really obscene was being masked there, but it turns out to be a double entendre only slightly more risqué than the “apples” in the first exchange. Here’s Arndt’s uncensored rendering:

FAUST [ dancing with the YOUNG ONE]
In a fair dream that once I dreamed;
An apple-tree appeared to me,
On it two pretty apples gleamed,
They beckoned me; I climbed the tree.
You’ve thought such apples very nice,
Since Adam’s fall in Paradise.
I’m happy to report to you,
My little orchard bears them too.
In a wild dream that once I dreamed
I saw a cloven tree, it seemed,
It had a black almighty hole;
Black as it was, it pleased my soul.
I welcome to my leafy roof
The baron with the cloven hoof!
I hope he’s brought a piston tall
To plug the mighty hole withal.

I am reminded in re-reading it how much in common Faust has with the fantasy books that were my staple reading at the time I first encountered it Tolkien, Peake, E. R. Eddison. I was reminded of this by some of the comments today about "The Buried Giant" (disclaimer I’ve not read any Ishiguro). For centuries literature and fantasy were almost synonymous – only in the 18th century did it start to require a kind of warning label.

Just about all the operas are adaptations of Faust Part 1, though Arrigo Boito, as I recall, included an episode with Helen of Troy. The dual language Anchor Books edition with Walter Kaufmann’s translation, which seems to be the most commonly available in my neck of the woods, includes only bits of Part 2 from the first and last acts. This may make sense insofar as the edition is intended for students of German, but really makes a hash out of Goethe’s intentions for the work as a whole. I’m really enjoying wrestling with the complexities of Part 2; my recent readings in Greek tragedy helps – Goethe writes a very credible pastiche of the form in the first half of Act 3. [2018 addenda: In Portuguese, our most distinguished Germanist, João Barrento, has already published his Magnum Opus, Faust’s full translation. I haven’t read it yet, but I will].

In acquiring various versions of Faust over the years I’ve been mainly interested in those that are complete – the portions editors are the most likely to cut are those that I think would gain the most from multiple viewpoints. ( )
  antao | Oct 15, 2018 |
i thoroughly enjoyed this. A very interesting tale of a scholar testing the limits of can be know, temptation, and a tragic fall. ( )
  _praxis_ | Mar 4, 2018 |
Um es wirklich zu verstehen, erfordert es schon etwas studieren, aber es liest sich auch so recht gut.
Durchaus empfehlenswert für die Allgemeinbildung. ( )
  newcastlee | Dec 30, 2017 |
I loooove that in contrast to Marlowe's Faust, where he's actually just about power and self-assertion, and Mann's, where he really was about deep knowledge and piercing the physical mysteries and developing an inhuman logic, etc., this Faust is more like a disaffected humanist--learning, and swimming in ideas and art, is what's put a spring in his step and given him a reason, and that's worn thin, and he doesn't want to know it all or pound armies into dust, he just wants to fill with easy joy again. So what he's really missing is youth--and so it's kind of no wonder this is really a love story, not a cautionary tale (or a cautionary tale about love, not about the devil): Faust and Margaret could have been the boon companions of each other's age, but marinating in great books and the like he'd never bothered to develop his concept of love beyond adolescent infatuation--he tries to make her Helen of Troy. And to maintain that kind of fantasy of limitlessness, to fight against the human life arc because it was all too beautiful, summer evenings at lectures, boozy under oak trees, is a kind of rebellion against God, I suppose. And so in contrast to the other two Fausts, where a very simple version of the caution on offer might be "Be content," here it is "Grow and change." No one would argue with that, on paper, but change means watching your old self die, and many of us (cf., in literature, obviously, Dorian Gray) have turned to different kinds of devils to keep alive the old selves we'd loved being when it was time to let them go. When what we really wanted to preserve was there for us if only the devils'd quit flitting and let us take a good look and have a think on't.

I wasn't too impressed with this translation--clunky in the attempt to simulate the German metre closely--but the illustrations from Harry Clarke were something really special (http://www.openculture.com/2015/09/harry-clarkes-1926-illustrations-of-goethes-f...). I can feel an echo of the power of the German, I think--I'd read it in the original next time, but I also think for translations there might be others better. ( )
3 vote MeditationesMartini | Dec 13, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (65 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang vonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adama v. Scheltema, C.S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bjerke, AndréTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delacroix, EugèneIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MacIntyre, C. F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manninen, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ras, G.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ras, G.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salm, PeterEditor and Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Lawrence Brown
First words
Ihr naht euch wieder schwankende Gestalten,

Die früh sich einst dem trüben Blick gezeigt.

(Ye draw near again wavering forms,

The early once shown the gloomy view.)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Contains only Part 1. Please don't combine with either the complete Faust or with Part 2.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Goethe's activities as poet, statesman, theatre director, critic, and scientist show him to be a genius of amazing versatility. This quality is reflected in his Faust, which ranks with the achievements of Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare. The mood of the play shifts constantly, displaying in turn the poet's controlled energy, his wit, his irony, his compassion, and above all his gift for lyrical expression. Faust, which Goethe began in his youth and worked on during the greater part of his lifetime, takes for its theme the universal experience of the troubled human soul, but its spiritual values far transcend mere satanism and its consequences.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553213482, Paperback)

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 I, 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 authoritative 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:04 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

After making a bargain with the devil, Faust is promiseda single moment of utter contentment in exchange for his soul, and after he regains his youth Faust travels in search of all forms of earthly pleasures.

(summary from another edition)

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