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