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Goethe: The Tragedy of Faust

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Published on Apr 30, 2012

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German pronunciation: [ˈjoːhan ˈvɔlfɡaŋ fɔn ˈɡøːtə], 28 August 1749 -- 22 March 1832) was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long poem of modern European literature.His other well-known literary works include his numerous poems, the Bildungsroman Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, and the epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Goethe was one of the key figures of German literature and the movement of Weimar Classicism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; this movement coincides with Enlightenment, Sentimentalism (Empfindsamkeit), Sturm und Drang and Romanticism. The author of the scientific text Theory of Colours, his influential ideas on plant and animal morphology and homology were extended and developed by 19th century naturalists including Charles Darwin. He also served at length as the Privy Councilor of the duchy of Saxe-Weimar.

In politics Goethe was conservative. At the time of the French Revolution, he thought the enthusiasm of the students and professors to be a perversion of their energy and remained skeptical of the ability of the masses to govern. Likewise, he "did not oppose the War of Liberation waged by the German states against Napoleon, but remained aloof from the patriotic efforts to unite the various parts of Germany into one nation; he advocated instead the maintenance of small principalities ruled by benevolent despots."

Goethe's influence spread across Europe, and for the next century his works were a major source of inspiration in music, drama, poetry and philosophy. Early in his career, however, he wondered whether painting might be his true vocation; late in his life, he expressed the expectation that he would ultimately be remembered above all for his work on color.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust is a tragic play in two parts: Faust. Der Tragödie erster Teil (translated as: Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy) and Faust. Der Tragödie zweiter Teil (Faust: The Second Part of the Tragedy). Although rarely staged in its entirety, it is the play with the largest audience numbers on German-language stages. Faust is Goethe's most famous work and considered by many to be one of the greatest works of German literature.

Goethe completed a preliminary version of Part One in 1806. The 1808 publication was followed by the revised 1828--29 edition, which was the last to be edited by Goethe himself. Prior to these appeared a partial printing in 1790 of Faust, a Fragment. The earliest forms of the work, known as the Urfaust, were developed between 1772 and 1775; however, the details of that development are no longer entirely clear.

Goethe finished writing Faust Part Two in 1831. In contrast to Faust Part One, the focus here is no longer on the soul of Faust, which has been sold to the devil, but rather on social phenomena such as psychology, history and politics, in addition to mystical and philosophical topics. The second part formed the principal occupation of Goethe's last years. It appeared only posthumously in 1832.

Faust: The Second Part of the Tragedy (German: ''Faust. Der Tragödie zweiter Teil'') is the second part of Goethe's Faust. It was published in 1832, the year of Goethe's death. Because of its complexity in form and content, it is usually not read in German schools, although the first part commonly is. It can be seen as one of the most difficult works of German literature, requiring an extensive knowledge of Greek mythology. Only part of Faust I is directly related to the legend, which goes back at least to the beginning of 16th century (thus is older than Marlowe's play). The "Gretchen"-plot, although now the most widely known episode of the Faust legend, was of Goethe's own invention. In Faust II, the legend of Johann Faust (at least in a version of the 18th century, which came to Goethe's attention) already contained Faust's marriage with Helen and an encounter with an Emperor. But certainly Goethe deals with the legendary material very freely in both parts.

This audio collection contains a treasury of 100 classic books and includes info on the life and times of the author, the theme of the book, the characters, the story outline, a concise yet detailed abridgement of the story and a discussion of the values that make each book one of the great classical works of literature.

© ''IntelliQuest World's 100 Greatest Books'' 1995

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

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