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5.0 out of 5 stars THE ETERNAL FEMININE LURES TO PERFECTION...
Walter Kaufmann's stunning translation of the closing verse of FAUST links it with Dante's closing hymm to Grace and THE MEDIATRIX of Salvation in The Divine Comedy. Dante's work is the preeminent literary discourse on FAITH in Medieval literature. Many regard it as the Christian Poet's SUMMA to parallel Thomas Aquinas' Theo-Philosophical magnum opus. FAUST was Goethe's...
Published on Nov. 17 2001 by Arthur F. McVarish

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A review of this edition, not the story
I won't bother to review Goethe's "Faust". It's ability to withstand the test of time and invade our lexicon is proof enough of its greatness and worth more than anything I could say. However, I would like to comment specifically on the Norton Critical Edition.
I was not particularly satisfied by this edition. Having never read Faust before, I was...
Published on June 10 2001 by Chad M. Brick


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A review of this edition, not the story, June 10 2001
By 
Chad M. Brick (Japan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Faust (Paperback)
I won't bother to review Goethe's "Faust". It's ability to withstand the test of time and invade our lexicon is proof enough of its greatness and worth more than anything I could say. However, I would like to comment specifically on the Norton Critical Edition.
I was not particularly satisfied by this edition. Having never read Faust before, I was expecting this edition to contain within its copious annotations helpful summaries of what was going on in the play. Particularly in Part II, where things are often quite disorienting, a first-time reader would often be lost without some outside help. Unfortunately, this edition, despite all the extras it added, didn't contain what I was looking for.
If you are deeply interested in Faust, and familiar with the story itself, the annotations are amazingly detailed, describing the sources and motivations that guided Goethe. If you are a casual reader, however, they will rarely help you understand what is going on if you get confused. This edition is geared towards the scholarly, not the casual.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Bother, Oct. 3 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Goethe's Faust (Paperback)
I apologize for my ingorance if I'm wrong about this, but I don't believe anyone's translated Faust into English without trying to maintain a rhyme scheme. Readers of Homer will appreciate what I'm talking about when they consider Robert Fagles' wonderful new translations that are especially faithful and powerful because they don't compromise word-choice for what, in translation, can only be a synthetic kind of rhyme. I would much prefer a metrically unbalanced, blank verse extremely faithful word-for-word translation of Goethe than the forced-into-rhymed-verse Kaufmann has presented. I don't mean to belittle Kaufmann's abilities - for what his Faust is, it's great, possibly the best. But I feel like it's Kaufmann's Faust, not Goethe's. Some will argue that this is always the case with translation, but can't we come closer? Is the rhyme THAT important to us? I, for one, would gladly sacrifice it to authenticity.
**************
Actually, Stuart Atkins' translation is not force-rhymed, so that's probably the one to go with.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE ETERNAL FEMININE LURES TO PERFECTION..., Nov. 17 2001
By 
Arthur F. McVarish (Houston, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Goethe's Faust (Paperback)
Walter Kaufmann's stunning translation of the closing verse of FAUST links it with Dante's closing hymm to Grace and THE MEDIATRIX of Salvation in The Divine Comedy. Dante's work is the preeminent literary discourse on FAITH in Medieval literature. Many regard it as the Christian Poet's SUMMA to parallel Thomas Aquinas' Theo-Philosophical magnum opus. FAUST was Goethe's life-long work challenging faith in ANYTHING (("If I say to the Moment 'Stay thou art so fair'...my soul etc...")). Many regard "Faust" as eponymous with the Modern Western Project (rightly or wrongly perceived as WILL to POWER incarnate).Goethe himself was called "The Last Aristocrat of the West" by Nietzsche,the man who heralded much of the intellectual disaster and mediocrity currently engulfing us under the terms Post-Modernism and Deconstructionism.
I mention DECONSTRUCTIONISM because it is AGAINST these forces of CHAOS that Goethe's hero utters words that should cost him his soul: THE DAM is Being built to save; to conserve; to Be: It represents LOGOS...and WHAT can EXIST. That Faust is saved by a pure-of-heart Christian girl in a fairy-tale ending with huge gnostic overtones may rightly befuddle readers who try to reason a "Leap of Faith" Goethe couldn't make but little Gretchen heroically does.
The real point of this review is praise of Kaufmann's translation.It may not be word-for-word accurate. But it doesn't devolve into trite Post-Modernism's more suited to graphic novels than profound World Literature.My German is barely adequate. Try reading awkward translations of Nietzsche or poets like Heine. Then you'll appreciate Kaufmann as both gifted philosopher and poet in his own right. This translation of FAUST...full of grandeur, wisdom, irony, cynicism,pathos and occasional gnostic nonsense, is THE TRANSLATION to beat.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books ever written, Sept. 26 2000
By 
Dmitrij Gawrisch (Bern, Schweiz) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Goethe's Faust (Paperback)
A lot of people (not only Germans) consider German literature as the finest in the world. Although I don't completely agree, I willingly admit it has its "stars" that could reach the level of World Literature. I offer just a few names of such novelists or playwrights: Grimmelshausen, Lessing, Schiller, Thomas Mann, Grass, Boll, and of course Johann Wolfgang Goethe with his famous play in two parts "Faust".
The play is based on a true story of a medieval scientist (alchimist) whose methods of research were considered magic. The story was so much exagerated by every generation that in 1587, as the original "Faustus" book appeared, it maintained that its primary character Faust has established an alliance with the devil himself, that it was the absolute evil that helped him making his discoveries. The Englishman Christopher Marlowe was the first to write a play based on "The tragical History of Doctor Faustus". In the 18th century, the young Goethe picked up the subject of Faust and began transforming it into a play that would eventually become the flag of the entire German literature. "Faust 1" was published for the first time in 1805 with great success. In 1832, just after the author's death, the continuation of the tragedy appeared. Since "Faust 2" didn't have any dramatical plot, it was presumed as unplayable on the stage and was more or less forgotten. Since its publishing, particularly "Faust 1" has played an important role in German culture. Many proverbs frequently used in German language originate in this play.
Before beginning his work, Goethe read the original story and made some artistic adjustments in the plot that should help him explain the themes he wanted to have explained. The first scene, Faust's famous monologue, is designed to make us think what really is valuable in our lives, what the price is you pay for knowledge, what the word "happiness" means and the importance of this word for our well-being. Then there is the devil himself, Mephisto, whose sarcastic and too human-like speaches made him one of the most intriguing character in the entire literature. He takes Faust on a trip to show the poor doctor how the world is really built. Faust, who doesn't believe in God (religion is another subject of the play), falls in love with a deeply religious girl called Gretchen. She is the pure personification of innocence, devinity and morale on Earth, without becoming a cliche. Faust, supported by Mephisto, seduces the poor girl. She can't live with her sins; as a result she kills her and Faust's child and is sentenced to death. Faust is desperate to save his lover, but Gretchen doesn't let him do it because she recognizes her guilt and is courageous enough to face her death. At the end, Gretchen is saved by God (! ) whereas Faust and Mephisto escape.
The play, written in a really wonderful language (the translation isn't bad, either), is a kind of a tale for adults full of humour, interesting philosophical views and irony (have you ever seen a serious play in which both God and devil participate?).
I haven't read "Faust 2" yet because it is more difficult to understand for laymen in Greek mythology. "Faust 1", on the other hand, is a book you MUST read if you are interested in literature. From my own experience, I know that not everybody likes "Faust", but give it a try. I, for my part, didn't regret a second spent on it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Piece of Western Literature, July 4 2001
This review is from: Faust (Paperback)
Certainly, the sixty years Goethe spent writing volumes I & II paid off. Unlike Shakespeare, there is a moral lesson which sums the human experience regardless of one's actual circumstances. By illusion and yearning are we enmeshed in lifes toils, only to find the simplicity of innocence and life's early beauty, before we possessed, was the greatest of our soul. Though greatly influenced by Shakespeare, Goethe takes the life's tale to another level which is wrapped in other dimensions of past, present, and future, in addition to heavens and hells. The Faustian choice is one made everyday and is weaved into every moment, until death and afterwards.
An understanding of Indian philosophy (i.e., Buddhism, Hinduism) and the Sanskrit texts brings a deeper depth of understanding, with their complexity and breadth giving greater meaning to a highly mystical and even transcendental text.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The conclusion is the beautiful solidarity, but why?, Aug. 30 2000
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This review is from: Goethe's Faust (Paperback)
The first time I read this conclusion, I wondered why it was the most important. Since I was born and have grown up at a rural country, its atmosphere was the solidarity itself. It seemed so conservative, because I thought it the most significant to assert myself against the implicit rules of the community, which has obligated me to conform them. After the twenty years, as the living world has changed, this estimate has been transformed. When all kind of conflicts between people, which were caused by the egoism, are found to be seen anywhere, the spirit of the solidarity has begun to seem warm and kind. As Goethe experienced the prime minister of some kingdom, he would know the egoistic ugly world of the time. Therefore, he might conclude that the most beautiful is the solidarity of the community. This poem is ready for who knows the troublesome world well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Kaufmann's translation doesn't compromise Goethe's poetry, Oct. 4 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Goethe's Faust (Paperback)
Walter Kaufmann's magnificent translation of Goethe's "Faust" preserves the original poetic qualities of the classic play. He neither compromises the integrity of the work by using shallow 90's-words or mires it in unpleasant, unreadable "ye" and "thou"s. In my opinion, it is the best translation of "Faust" I have come across, and Kaufmann's commentary (being a native German himself) proves that he is an authority on both the idiomatic elements of the original work and the intent of Goethe's style. The only drawback to the book is that most of Part II is excluded; while Pt. II generally is considered to drag on ad nauseum by first-time readers, students of German romanticism miss rich imagery and lush allusions by receiving only a synopsis of the robust scenes of Pt. II. Otherwise, Kaufmann's work is unequaled.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good translation, April 13 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Goethe's Faust (Paperback)
I thought the translation for this play was excellent. There is even a great introduction at the beginning. But I must point out that there were many typographical errors in the book and also a large portion of Part 2 was omitted. The play itself also was not so great. I did enjoy its humor, provided by Mephisto himself. It starts off very well but by the start of the second part, you lose yourself. Goethe even decided to change one of the characters names halfway through the first part (just for the heck of it!). The ending was also a bit disappointing. It seems like Goethe's skill began waning by the end of the first part (much like Conrad when he neared the end of Nostromo). But still since it's a classic, you probably should read it. Then again, some 'classics' are terrible and I hope should soon be forgotten (Dickens for one!).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Rival to Shakespeare, Jan. 19 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Goethe's Faust (Paperback)
I want to open up by saying that this particular translation is above all others. The penguin version is awful. Secondly, I will say that "Faust" is beautifully written, putting Goethe on par with Shakespeare. Goethe captures the phenomena of boredom and low capacity of freedom. The Doctor, Faust, has studied philosophy, science, literautre, and so on, but still feels empty and disatisfed. What would you do? Would you, as he does, take company with the Devil?
There is humour, wit, eloquence of language, and detail. There has to be some reason why it is so praised by scholars today. Even Oscar Wilde, who wrote "The Picture of Dorian Gray," borrowed from it.
Be aware, though, of how difficult the play is to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Darwin was wrong, March 29 2001
By 
Marcelo Salinas (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Faust (Paperback)
One of these days, someone asked if I believed in God. I answered: "Of course I do. There are some things in the world that couldn't have been created by men, such as Faust or The Divine Comedy. They must have been created by another entity, by God himself or through His direct inspiration. The human spirit is not that great."
Darwin was wrong. Men have not evoluted since Dante or Goeth. The modern man has become an ancient monkey: our brain has diminished and it doesn't conceive these kinds of Masterpieces anymore.
Who Am I to review such a Masterpiece as Faust? I`m just a monkey. A monkey that is going to read Faust for the fifth time in four years and still hasn't got it all, and, probably, never will.
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Faust
Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Paperback - Nov. 5 1998)
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