Faust – A Tragedy In Two Parts & The Urfaust
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Translated, with an Introduction and Notes by John R. Williams.
Goethe’s Faust is a classic of European literature. Based on the fable of the man who traded his soul for superhuman powers and knowledge, it became the life’s work of Germany’s greatest poet. Beginning with an intriguing wager between God and Satan, it charts the life of a deeply flawed individual and his struggle against the nihilism of his diabolical companion Mephistopheles.
Part One presents Faust’s pact with the Devil and the harrowing tragedy of his love affair with the young Gretchen. Part Two shows Faust’s experience in the world of public affairs, including his encounter with Helen of Troy, the emblem of classical beauty and culture. The whole is a symbolic and panoramic commentary on the human condition and on modern European history and civilisation.
This new translation of both parts of Faust preserves the poetic character of the original, its tragic pathos and hilarious comedy. In addition, John Williams has translated the Urfaust, a fascinating glimpse into the young Goethe’s imagination, and a selection from the draft scenarios for the Walpurgis Night witches’ sabbath – material so ribald and blasphemous that Goethe did not dare publish it.