Book: Фауст, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Title: Faust
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Translation: Boris Pasternak
Source: Veddma library

Notes: I read this story in Russian translation by Boris Pasternak. Sadly my knowledge of German is not nearly as good as would be required to appreciate the original, thus I cannot compare the two.

Faust, frustrated by the limits of human existence and the extent of human knowledge, signs in blood the deal with Mephistopheles (the devil). Their agreement states that Mephistopheles will serve Faust helping him achieve the ultimate human happiness, upon which Faust’s soul shall then become the devil’s.

This version of the Faust story conveys deep despair, breathtaking cruelty, futility, and the fleeting nature of earthly accomplishments, desires, and obstacles. The story of Trojan war is presented from the point of view of the beautiful Elena, unable to settle anywhere with anyone, as the fighting for her destroys any chance of stability in her life. Another woman, Gretchen, is lead astray by Faust, she unknowingly murders her mother to prevent her from interfering in their affair, and given birth to his daughter Gretchen drowns her. Her brother dies protecting her honour, and she is sentenced to death for murdering her daughter.

Greek gods, war, politics, love, and power are all explored in the poem, taking Faust through a plethora of human experiences. The tale is disturbing and depressing, as it exposes the dark unpleasant side of human nature. Faust by Goethe is a great work of poetry, taking the reader along to the depths of soul searching.

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