Adult Fiction

Classics Club: Doctor Faustus by Marlowe and Faust by Goethe

The Classics:

Doctor Faustus (published in 1604 but performed earlier) by Christopher Marlowe

Faust (1808/1832) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Was it what I expected?/Did I Like It?/Is it worth reading?

I don’t have much to say about Faust, but I thought I should say something, because I wanted to read these plays as part of my many-times-mentioned interest in literary Satanism. I’ve actually wanted to read them for probably a decade, long before this year’s sustained reading on the subject, so I really thought I’d find something to love or at least to engage me and the fact that I didn’t is deeply disappointing to me.

In both cases, the plots (in detail and in generality) seemed to address the authors’ contemporary religious and political landscapes. They don’t seem to age very well, and are in large part incomprehensible without that context. I read Doctor Faustus in full, got nothing out of it, and decided it wasn’t worth the time and effort it would take to actually understand. Faust I started and put down about a quarter of the way into it, BUT I may try it again with another translation at some point. It read much easier to my modern tastes, had more character development and seemed to be a more serious treatment (Doctor Faustus had a lot of parody and slapstick and such), but I couldn’t stay interested and the poetry seemed simplistic. So, I think that at least would be worth trying in another translation. (The one I tried was translated by George Madison Priest, it just happened to be the one available at my library.)

These books are part of my Classics Club list!


2 thoughts on “Classics Club: Doctor Faustus by Marlowe and Faust by Goethe


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