Goethe or Marlowe

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Goethe or Marlowe

Postby Brave Archer » Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:29 pm

Whom do you believe wrote the better Faust and why?

I haven't read Goethes Faust, it will be here in a few day's, and i'm curious about this. I read Marlowes a year or two ago and thought it was a good read, and i'm gonna try to read it again so it's easier for me to compare and contrast.

Saturn, i'm picking up Sorrow's of a Young Werther tonight or tomorrow, all because of your quotes. Would you be able to give me some insight into the type of book it is and what it's about?
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Postby dks » Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:39 pm

Oooh Marlowe was a genius. That's a tough one, but I'd go with his Faust over Goethe's. It's that irony and pathos mixture that makes Marlowe so damn good--better than anyone in that vein--hence Hero and Leander. :wink:
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Postby Saturn » Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:55 pm

This is a really hard one to answer. I can't choose between them.
They are both, in their own different ways, monuments of world literature.

I've read both - Marlowe's, being the precursor [though it is by no means certain that Goethe knew anything about or had ever read Marlowe's version of the tale] is a landmark in Elizabethan theatre - it was one of the huge 'blockbusters' of the day, and Ned Allen, who played Marlowe's heroes and Faust in particular became a star as famous and desired in his day as say someone like Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt in ours.

As a spectacle and an intense meditaion on sin and redemption, Marlowe's Faust is unrivalled until perhaps Macbeth. His Mephistopheles is a unique and witty character who is also full of pathos and tragedy - even while he laughs, he is weeping. He often steals the show from Faust himself until that terrible final act

Marlowe's rhetoric is extremely impressive and convincing and he gives the story a real terror of the inferno.
In his own day people fainted when Faust was dragged off to hell by the demons on the stage, and even in the twentieth century powerful productions were staged, perhaps most successfully by the masterful Orson Welles.

Coming now to Goethe's Faust - it is a whole different beast.

Although it is written and presented often as a play [in either one or two parts, with its sequel] it is essentialy a dramtic poem or dialogue.
It has many of the themes, characters and some situations of the earlier Marlovian drama but the similarities end there.
It is firmly rooted in the sturnm und drang German tradition of early romanticism which emphasised the fragile emotional balance of the individual.
Faust has a real love interest in Gretchen and he behaves much in the same way of Goethe's other tragic romantic heroes like Werther.
Goethe's Faust is also somewhat more satirical [especially part two] and has even more comic episodes than Marlowe's.

Goethe's was a life-time's work, many times revised and re-written. The second part was not published until after it's author's death.

Marlowe's was intended for the stage and I suspect, like Shakespeare, Marlowe hoped his poetry would make his name, not his plays - neither could have forseen that we would be reading their stage plays four hundred years later.

I know this rambles a bit but what I'm saying is I can't choose - both are well worth reading :lol:

P.S. Brave Archer see here for some information on Goethe's Werther:

It is very bleak and some would say depressing but I can relate to it in may ways so I don't have too much of a problem with it.

Put it this way - if you're in any way emotional when you read books you'll need a whole box of tissues by the end :(
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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