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A new translation, in rhymed verse, of Goethe's Faust - preserves the essence without resorting to an overly literal, archaic translation.
Prologue for the Theatre
Prologue in Heaven
Goethe¿s ¿Faust¿ is arguably the most important milestone in Romantic literature. Taking the famous medieval legend of Dr. Faustus and his pact with the devil, Goethe adapted the tale of old, and transformed it into a great love story, and a probing poetical tract on the nature of good and evil, salvation and damnation, failing and striving, the innate search for truth and lasting fulfilment.<BR/><BR/>Part One (first published 1808) features Faust¿s disgust with his life and the world at large, and attempting to unite with the Spirit of creation and soar above the petty corporality of earth, the proud old scholar is dashed to the ground, for he must first work his salvation out on earth by the sweat of his brow before he can be admitted into the presence of the Deity. In desperation, Faust tries to commit suicide, but then makes a wager with the devil: if Mephistopheles can show him that one moment of bliss he is searching for and succeeds in persuading him to cease all his human striving for that one moment, then his soul is forfeit. The devil agrees to the wager, grants Faust the gift of youth, and the adventures begin. He meets young Margareta and falls in love, a romance that leads to tragedy for the innocent maiden.<BR/><BR/>David Luke¿s award-winning translation is one of the best I have read. While the rhythms do jar on occasion, this does not take away from the `flow¿ of this rendition. There will always be discrepancies when a text is taken out of its original language in any case, so it is more constructive to concentrate on the `readability¿, this translation succeeds in portraying the mood of Goethe¿s text and the personality of his vibrant characters. In some instances, it may be argued the translation is too modern, for example, lines [2065-2070] when Mephistopheles prepares his magic flying cloak for their journey to a new life of youthful debauchery:<BR/><BR/>Mephistopheles:<BR/>¿One merely spreads one¿s cloak¿you¿ll find<BR/>It give us aerial elevation.<BR/>Though, please, this bold step for mankind,<BR/>Imposes luggage-limitation.<BR/>I¿ll set the burners going, heat some air, and lo!<BR/>We travel light, the earth lies far below.¿<BR/><BR/>Did Neil Armstrong land on the moon in Goethe¿s time? Of course not, but Luke¿s witty lines humorously displays Mephistopheles¿ rakish personality and has become one of my personal favourites in this English edition.<BR/><BR/>The book features an informative introduction on Goethe¿s biography and the composition of Part One and includes a graph displaying how he edited and added to the scenes until he arrived at the text we know today.<BR/>There is also a select bibliography, a general chronology of Goethe¿s life and career, and helpful explanatory endnotes for those who wish to study the details of the text more thoroughly. For ¿Urfaust¿ scholars, Luke highlights the lines that were part of Goethe¿s early draft.<BR/><BR/>E.A. Bucchianeri, author of ¿Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World¿
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Posted August 29, 2002
I think that 'Faust' is a excellent book. It displays the remmicks of good and evil and respresents of how one's soul is a very important source of who one is. Goeth has really captured the true essence of the human soul.
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Posted November 6, 2008
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Posted October 26, 2008
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