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Goethe s Faust reworks the late medieval myth of a brilliant scholar so disillusioned he resolves to make a contract with Mephistopheles. The devil will do all he asks on Earth and seeks to grant him a moment in life so glorious that he will wish it to last forever. But if Faust does bid the moment stay, he falls to Mephisto and must serve him after death. In this first part of Goethe s great work, the embittered thinker and Mephistopheles enter into their agreement, and soon Faust is living a rejuvenated life and winning the love of the beautiful Gretchen. But in this compelling tragedy of arrogance, unfulfilled desire, and self-delusion, Faust heads inexorably toward an infernal destruction.A.S. Byatt s preface considers Goethe s lifelong relationship with the myth of Faust and its influence on modern literatureIncludes an introduction by the translator, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, explanatory notes, and an addendum on the writing of Faust

About the Author

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) perhaps comes as close as any man to deserving the title of universal genius. Poet, dramatist, critic, scientist, administrator and novelist, he was born at Frankfurt-am-Main in 1749, the son of well-to-do parents with intellectual interests; and he studied at the University of Leipzig and at Strassburg, where he wrote a play which initiated the important Sturm und Drang movement. During the next five years he practiced law in Frankfurt and wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther, a remarkable novel autobiographical of one side of Goethes nature. In 1775 he went to visit the court of the young Duke of Weimar, and, except for an extended journey to Italy a decade later, stayed there the rest of his life, filling at one time or another all the major posts in the Weimar government. Here a close friendship with Schiller developed, and here he conducted important scientific experiments and published a steady stream of books of the highest order and in many different forms. He became the director of the Weimar Theatre in 1791 and made it the most famous in Europe. His life held a number of ardent loves, which he celebrated in lyrics that are compared to Shakespeares, and in 1806 he married Christiane Vulpius whom he had loved for many years. In later life Goethe became a generous patron of younger writers, including Byron and Carlyle. In 1790 he published the first version of his life work as Faust, a Fragment, but Part I of the completed Faust did not appear until 1808, while Part II was finished and published only a few months before Goethes death in 1832.

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