Stories of a medieval alchemist and necromancer known as Johann George Faust developed in the late middle ages and were first published in the Faust Book of 1587. Christopher Marlowe developed a play from an English translation of this work, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, which was then taken by English actors to the continent and became the basis for plays put on by traveling troupes of German actors and puppeteers. Johann Wolfgang Goethe drew on this material for the two parts of his Faust, the iconic masterpiece of German literature, comparable to the Iliad and the Odyssey in classical Greek literature, Virgil’s Aeneid in Latin literature, Dante’s Divine Comedy in Italian literature, and the plays of Shakespeare in English literature. Goethe continued to work on Faust from his early twenties until the year of his death at age 82. We will begin by tracing the development of the legend in the Faust Book, Marlowe’s play, and one of the puppet plays. We will then look at the various versions of Part I of Goethe’s Faust, and conclude by looking at the very different character of Part II. The recommended text, which we will use in class, is David Luke, Goethe. Faust: Part I and Goethe. Faust: Part II (two volumes, Oxford World’s Classics), ISBN 978-0199536214 and 978-0199536207. This is a revised version of the fall 2019 course.
Instructor Byron Stuhlman is a retired Episcopal minister with a doctorate in theology and the author of six books. He was a member of the faculty of Hamilton College and General Theological Seminary. Prior to moving to Maine, he taught at the Mohawk Valley Institute for Learning in Retirement (Utica, NY). Byron has served as the chair of the CSC board and chair of its curriculum committee as well as teaching a good number of courses.
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