Goethe's Faust: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Goethe's Faust

1st Edition

By John R. Williams


262 pages

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Hardback: 9780367438395
pub: 2019-12-31
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Originally published in 1987, this is a thorough and lucid introduction and commentary to the whole of Goethe’s Faust. It gives the student of German and European literature valuable insights into the most important work of Germany’s foremost poet. German quotations are translated or paraphrased in English and a detailed knowledge of German literature is not assumed. The book traces Goethe’s work on the play over 60 years of his creative career and surveys its critical reception over the 200 years since its first appearance. Part One is analysed as a mimetic tragedy, Part Two as an historical and cultural profile of Goethe’s own times. The commentary guides the reader carefully through its subtleties and multi-layered references and provides a broad and coherent structure for the overall understanding of the work. It suggests provocative interpretations of some figures and episodes in Part Two and places renewed emphasis on parts of the work that often receive relatively little attention. An appendix surveys the metres and verse forms of the play.

Table of Contents

Part One: History, Composition and Reception 1. The Sources and Transmission of the Faust Legend 2. The Composition and Context of Goethe’s Faust: The Relationship of the Two Parts 3. The Reception of Goethe’s Faust Part Two: Commentary on the Text 4. The Prefatory Scenes 5. Faust, Part One 6. Faust, Part Two 7. A Note on the Metre and Verse Forms of Goethe’s Faust

About the Author

John R. Williams was lecturer in German at the University of St. Andrews

About the Series

Routledge Library Editions: German Literature

Originally published between 1938 and 1996, the volumes in this set provide a survey of German poetry, prose and fiction from the Middle Ages to the late 20th Century. In many cases no prior knowledge of German is necessary, as translations into English are provided. Many of the books focus particularly on German writers and literature from an international perspective.

The books:

  • Analyse Naturalism, Impressionism, Neo-romanticism and Expressionism as well as dealing exhaustively with Surrealism, Magic Realism and Existentialism.

  • Include discussion of post-war Anglo-American and French literature.


  • Provide guidebooks through the masses of periodicals and allows the English side of the Anglo-German literary relationship to be explored in detail.

  • Present a detailed analysis of the major literary movements in Austria and Germany from the end of the nineteenth century to the collapse of the Third Reich


  • Examine two of the central themes of medieval German mythology, the Dietrich and Nibelung legends

  • Survey the development of political writing in the former Federal Republic of Germany, Illustrating the connections between literature and politics


  • Elucidate the concealed meanings in some of the more obscure writings of great authors such as Goethe

  • Provides a full survey of the best and most significant work of German writers to the First World War.

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