Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Faust" is weird

I am not kidding.

Let me share this excerpt from the summary of "Faust", courtesy of Wikipedia:

  • ...Mephistopheles wins the argument and Faust signs the contract [the devil does everything Faust wants him to, in exchange for Faust going to hell after Faust dies]... 
  • Faust ... then meets ...Gretchen. 
  • He is attracted to her and with... help ... the devil draws Gretchen into Faust's arms. Faust seduces Gretchen and they sleep together. 
  • Gretchen's mother dies from a sleeping potion, administered by Gretchen to obtain privacy so that Faust could visit her. 
  • Gretchen discovers she is pregnant. 
  • Gretchen's brother condemns Faust, challenges him and falls dead at the hands of Faust and Mephistopheles
  • Gretchen drowns her illegitimate child and is convicted of the murder
  • Faust tries to save Gretchen from death by attempting to free her from prison.
  • Finding that they cannot free her, Faust and the devil flee the dungeon, while voices from Heaven announce that Gretchen shall be saved.


That sounds like the worst soap opera ever.

Then I read the summary of the second part of the tragedy of Faust. Let me share this gem with you:

"Rich in classical allusion, in Part Two the romantic story of the first Faust is forgotten, and Faust wakes in a field of fairies to initiate a new cycle of adventures and purpose. The piece consists of five acts (relatively isolated episodes) each representing a different theme. Ultimately, Faust goes to heaven, for he loses only half of the bet. Angels, who arrive as messengers of divine mercy, declare at the end of Act V: "He who strives on and lives to strive/ Can earn redemption still""

And this part sounds like Goethe was on crack, but woke up and consequently realized he needed to bring Faust to a happy ending to satisfy his readers' empathy with Faust.

I'm pretty sure that if this is considered a classic, there's more to it than these summaries, but as far as I can surmise, the thing's nutty.

And ironically, Goethe was noted to have helped "set the tone for Romanticism in Europe" (thank you summaries for this class) and yet he's recorded as saying that the Romantic movement was really "everything that was sick" (thank you Wikipedia for being an excellent source of knowledge and quotes and epicness).

Well, Goethe, I should really read your book before I judge the plot, but if this is exemplary of Romantic movement, I'm quite inclined to agree.

Mostly Unrelated:
Speaking of Romanticism (defined in our class summaries as "Artistic movement... emphasizing appreciation of nature, creativity, individualism, imagination, and beauty..."), this blog has at least the middle three qualities of those five. And I'm pretty sure this style of humor is unique to our time. And it's awesome. The end.

I forgot that apparently we need to talk about books we would like to read. Well, I'd basically be happy with anything of reasonable length off the Honors reading list from the 17th/18th century because that's the only category I'm missing, and I graduate in less than a year, so I gotta keep up with all that. "Gulliver's Travels" was suggested, and I would be quite interested in "Vindication of the Rights of Women" or "Robinson Crusoe", so that's all fine and dandy.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha -- Wikipedia is full of epicness.

    You're right, Faust is very weird. We dipped into faust to try to explain the Twilight series in a literary criticism class once. THAT was a fun discussion (cough, cough).

    If you liked Faust, you'll like Gulliver's Travels. . . not exactly related, but both pretty weird.