Faust is a tragic play in two parts by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, usually known in English as Faust, Part One and Faust, Part Two. Although rarely staged in its entirety, it is the play with the largest audience numbers on German-language stages. Faust is considered by many to be Goethe's magnum opus and the greatest work of German literature.
The earliest forms of the work, known as the Urfaust, were developed between 1772 and 1775; however, the details of that development are not entirely clear. Urfaust has twenty-two scenes, one in prose, two largely prose and the remaining 1,441 lines in rhymed verse. The manuscript is lost, but a copy was discovered in 1886.
The first appearance of the work in print was Faust, a Fragment, published in 1790. Goethe completed a preliminary version of what is now known as Part One in 1806. Its publication in 1808 was followed by the revised 1828–29 edition, the last to be edited by Goethe himself.
Goethe finished writing Faust Part Two in 1831; it was published posthumously the following year. In contrast to Faust Part One, the focus here is no longer on the soul of Faust, which has been sold to the devil, but rather on social phenomena such as psychology, history and politics, in addition to mystical and philosophical topics. The second part formed the principal occupation of Goethe's last years.
The original 1808 German title page of Goethe's play read simply: "Faust. / Eine Tragödie" ("Faust. / A Tragedy"). The addition of "erster Teil" (in English, "Part One") was retrospectively applied by publishers when the sequel was published in 1832 with a title page which read: "Faust. / Der Tragödie zweiter Teil" ("Faust. / The Tragedy's Second Part").
The two plays have been published in English under a number of titles, and are usually referred to as Faust, Parts One and Two.
Faust, Part One
The principal characters of Faust Part One include:
- Heinrich Faust, a scholar, sometimes said to be based on Johann Georg Faust, or on Jacob Bidermann's dramatized account of the Legend of the Doctor of Paris, Cenodoxus; see also Faust
- Mephistopheles, the Devil
- Gretchen, Faust's love (short for Margarete; Goethe uses both forms)
- Marthe, Gretchen's neighbour
- Valentin, Gretchen's brother
- Wagner, Faust's attendant
Faust Part One takes place in multiple settings, the first of which is Heaven. The demon Mephistopheles makes a bet with God: he says that he can lure God's favourite human being (Faust), who is striving to learn everything that can be known, away from righteous pursuits. The next scene takes place in Faust's study where Faust, despairing at the vanity of scientific, humanitarian and religious learning, turns to magic for the showering of infinite knowledge. He suspects, however, that his attempts are failing. Frustrated, he ponders suicide, but rejects it as he hears the echo of nearby Easter celebrations begin. He goes for a walk with his assistant Wagner and is followed home by a stray poodle (the term then meant a medium-to-big-size dog, similar to a sheep dog).
In Faust's study, the poodle transforms into Mephistopheles. Faust makes an arrangement with him: Mephistopheles will do everything that Faust wants while he is here on Earth, and in exchange Faust will serve the Devil in Hell. Faust's arrangement is that if he is pleased enough with anything Mephistopheles gives him that he wants to stay in that moment forever, then he will die in that moment.
When Mephistopheles tells Faust to sign the pact with blood, Faust complains that Mephistopheles does not trust Faust's word of honor. In the end, Mephistopheles wins the argument and Faust signs the contract with a drop of his own blood. Faust has a few excursions and then meets Margaret (also known as Gretchen). He is attracted to her and with jewelry and with help from a neighbor, Martha, Mephistopheles draws Gretchen into Faust's arms. With Mephistopheles' aid, Faust seduces Gretchen. Gretchen's mother dies from a sleeping potion, administered by Gretchen to obtain privacy so that Faust could visit her. Gretchen discovers she is pregnant. Gretchen's brother condemns Faust, challenges him and falls dead at the hands of Faust and Mephistopheles. Gretchen drowns her illegitimate child and is convicted of the murder. Faust tries to save Gretchen from death by attempting to free her from prison. Finding that she refuses to escape, Faust and Mephistopheles flee the dungeon, while voices from Heaven announce that Gretchen shall be saved – "Sie ist gerettet" – this differs from the harsher ending of Urfaust – "Sie ist gerichtet!" – "she is condemned."
Faust, Part Two
Rich in classical allusion, in Part Two the romantic story of the first Faust is put aside, and Faust wakes in a field of fairies to initiate a new cycle of adventures and purpose. The piece consists of five acts (relatively isolated episodes) each representing a different theme. Ultimately, Faust goes to Heaven, for he loses only half of the bet. Angels, who arrive as messengers of divine mercy, declare at the end of Act V: "He who strives on and lives to strive/ Can earn redemption still" (V, 11936–7).
Relationship between the parts
Throughout Part One, Faust remains unsatisfied; the ultimate conclusion of the tragedy and the outcome of the wagers are only revealed in Faust Part Two. The first part represents the "small world" and takes place in Faust's own local, temporal milieu. In contrast, Part Two takes place in the "wide world" or macrocosmos.
Goethe's Faust has inspired a great deal of literature, music, and illustration.
Many lines and phrases from Goethe's Faust have become part of the German language.
In 1821, a partial English verse translation of Faust (Part One) was published anonymously by the London publisher Thomas Boosey and Sons, with illustrations by the German engraver Moritz Retzsch. This translation was attributed to the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge by Frederick Burwick and James C. McKusick in their 2007 Oxford University Press edition, Faustus: From the German of Goethe, Translated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In a letter dated 4 September 1820, Goethe wrote to his son August that Coleridge was translating Faust. However, this attribution is controversial: Roger Paulin, William St. Clair, and Elinor Shaffer provide a lengthy rebuttal to Burwick and McKusick, offering evidence including Coleridge's repeated denials that he had ever translated Faustus and arguing that Goethe's letter to his son was based on misinformation from a third party  Coleridge's fellow Romantic Percy Bysshe Shelley produced admired fragments of a translation first publishing Part One Scene II in The Liberal magazine in 1822, with "Scene I" (in the original, the "Prologue in Heaven") being published in the first edition of his Posthumous Poems by Mary Shelley in 1824.
In 1828, at the age of twenty, Gérard de Nerval published a French translation of Goethe's Faust.
Calvin Thomas published translations of Part 1 in 1892 and Part 2 in 1897.
Philosopher Walter Kaufmann was also known for an English translation of Faust, presenting Part One in its entirety, with selections from Part Two, and omitted scenes extensively summarized. Kaufmann's version preserves Goethe's metres and rhyme schemes, but objected to translating all of Part Two into English, believing that "To let Goethe speak English is one thing; to transpose into English his attempt to imitate Greek poetry in German is another."
... the translator clearly distorts Goethe's ideas... in order to defend the reactionary theory of 'pure art' ... he introduces an aesthetic and individualist flavor into the text... attributes a reactionary idea to Goethe... distorts the social and philosophical meaning...
In response, Pasternak wrote to the exiled daughter of Marina Tsvetaeva,
There has been much concern over an article in Novy Mir denouncing my Faust on the grounds that the gods, angels, witches, spirits, the madness of poor Gretchen, and everything 'irrational' has been rendered much too well, while Goethe's 'progressive' ideas (what are they?) have been glossed over. But I have a contract to do the second part as well! I don't know how it will all end. Fortunately, it seems that the article won't have any practical effect.
- May 24, 1819: Premiere of selected scenes. Castle Monbijou, Berlin
- January 29, 1829: Premiere of the complete Part One. Braunschweig
- 1960: Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg: Directed by Peter Gorski, and produced by Gustaf Gründgens (who also played Mephistopheles), with Will Quadflieg (Faust), Ella Büchi (Gretchen), Elisabeth Flickenschildt (Martha), Max Eckard (Valentin), Eduard Marks (Wagner), Uwe Friedrichsen (Student). The film of this performance was very successful.
- October 26, 2006: Teatro Comunale Modena, Italy: Directed by Eimuntas Nekrošius; complete playing length (with intervals): 4½ hours
- 1989: Fragments from Part One. Piccolo Teatro di Milano: Director Giorgio Strehler, scenographer Josef Svoboda
- 2003 of Ingmar Thilo; with Antonios Safralis (Faust), Raphaela Zick (Mephisto), Ulrike Dostal (Helena), Max Friedmann (Lynceus), and others
- 2005 Michael Thalheimer at Deutsches Theater, Berlin, with a.o. Ingo Hülsmann, Sven Lehmann, Nina Hoss and Inge Keller
- 1990: Fragments from Part Two. Piccolo Teatro di Milano: Director Giorgio Strehler, scenographer Josef Svoboda
- 1938: World premiere of both parts, unabridged, at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland
- July 22–23, 2000: The Expo 2000 Hanover performance: Directed by Peter Stein; both parts in their complete version, with Bruno Ganz and Christian Nickel (the young and the old Faust), Johann Adam Oest (Mephistopheles), Dorothée Hartinger, Corinna Kirchhoff and Elke Petri. Complete playing length (with intervals): 21 hours
In music and film
- In 1814 Franz Schubert set a text from Faust Part I, scene 18 as "Gretchen am Spinnrade" (D 118; Op. 2). It was his first setting of a text by Goethe. Later Lieder by Schubert based on Faust: D 126, 367, 440 and 564.
- Robert Schumann's secular oratorio Scenes from Goethe's Faust (1844–1853)
- Hector Berlioz's "légende dramatique" La damnation de Faust (1846)
- Franz Liszt's Faust Symphony (1857)
- Charles Gounod's opera Faust (1859)
- Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele (1868; 1875)
- The second section of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 (1906) sets the text of the final scene of part II of Goethe's Faust.
- Ferruccio Busoni's opera Doktor Faust (1916)
- F. W. Murnau's film Faust (1926) is based on older versions of the legend as well as Goethe's version.
- Pierre Mac Orlan's novel Marguerite de la nuit (1935)
- Claude Autant-Lara's adaptation of the 1935 novel, Marguerite de la nuit (1955 film)
- Randy Newman's musical Faust (1993)
- Jan Švankmajer's film Faust (1994)
- Brian Yuzna's film Faust: Love of the Damned (2000)
- Alexander Sokurov's film Faust (2011)
- Kamelot's concept albums Epica and The Black Halo are based on the play.
- American band Agalloch's Faustian Echoes EP is directly based on Goethe's work and contains direct quotations from it.
- The 2017 film American Satan features characters and a storyline based on Goethe's Faust.
- Portor, Laura Spencer (1917). The Greatest Books in the World: Interpretative Studies. Chautauqua, NY: Chautauqua Press. p. 82.
- Goethe's Plays, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, translated into English with Introductions by Charles E. Passage, Publisher Benn Limited 1980 ISBN 0510000878, ISBN 978-0510000875
- The surd of metaphysics; an inquiry into the question Are there things-in-themselves? Paul Carus 1903 p. 2
- Kaufmann, Walter A., From Shakespeare To Existentialism: An Original Study, Princeton University Press (1980), at p. 56. Kaufmann states (same page) that such public acceptance of Faust 'was by no means [Goethe's] intention.'
- F Burwick, UCLA, archived from the original on 2010-03-11.
- Faculty, UMT[permanent dead link].
- "Product", Catalogue, UK: OUP.
- Grovier, Kelly (February 13, 2008). "Coleridge and Goethe together at last". The Times. London.
- Roger, Paulin; et al. (2008), A Gentleman of Literary Eminence (PDF).
- Kaufmann, Walter (1963). "Introduction". Goethe's Faust : part one and sections from part two (Anchor books ed.). Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday. p. 47. ISBN 0-385-03114-9.
- Thomas Hutchinson, ed. (1970). Poetical works [of] Shelley (2nd ed.). London: Oxford University Press. pp. 748–762. ISBN 0-19-281069-3.
- Olga Ivinskaya, A Captive of Time: My Years with Pasternak, 1978. pp. 78–79.
- "Faust | Yale University Press". yalebooks.com. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
- Otto Erich Deutsch, with revisions by Werner Aderhold and others. Franz Schubert, Thematisches Verzeichnis seiner Werke in chronologischer Folge, p. 84 (Neue Schubert-Ausgabe Series VIII Supplement, Volume 4). Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1978. ISBN 9783761805718
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- Media related to Faust (Goethe) at Wikimedia Commons
- Faust, Part 1 at Project Gutenberg (German)
- Faust, Part 2 at Project Gutenberg (German)
- Faust, Part 1 at Project Gutenberg (1912 English translation by Bayard Taylor)
- "Faust, Part 1 and 2 (English translation from Project Gutenberg in a modern design)". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
- "Faust full text in German and English side-by-side (translations: Priest, Brooks and Coleridge)". Archived from the original on 2013-03-31.
- Faust available at Internet Archive, scanned illustrated books
- Faust, Part II available at digbib.org (German)
- Faust, Pt. 1 available at Google Books (1867 English translation by John Wynniatt Grant)
- Faust, Pt. 1 available at Google Books (1908 English translation by Abraham Hayward with illustrations by Willy Pogany)
- Kierans, Kenneth (2003). "Faust, Art, Religion" (PDF). Animus. 8. ISSN 1209-0689. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Faust public domain audiobook at LibriVox