Adam's Reviews > Faust: First Part

Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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's review
Jul 01, 2012

it was ok
Read in July, 2012

I hate to be the reviewer of a classic who claims "the emperor has no clothes", but in this case, Goethe has no clothes. At least after the first few scenes. It starts off amazing and is a 9/10 up to the point where he sells his soul to the devil. The first scene where he proclaims his existential pain to the world was very powerful and I could even relate somewhat to his dilemmas and suicidal ideations and the worthlessness of all his intellectual endeavors. But that is pretty much the best part of the work. It's all downhill after that. Even the scene where he gives his soul up to mephistopheles failed to move me in the way I thought it would. It just lacked any power and emotion. I thought it was rushed. The romance between Faust and Gretchen was literally contrived and also rushed. I didn't buy it at all. Goethe should have used more lines on the character development in order to flesh out the feelings that he so strongly espouses. I love Romanticism and Goethe can write excellent verse at times, especially his soliloquies, but it seems to lack cohesion. There basically are no segues between scenes, so the reader is forced to fill in the developmental blanks that exist all over this book. This worked for me at first, but quickly became tiresome and annoying. Right now he's in a bar. Now he's in a cave. Now he's with a woman. Now he's on a street. Now he's back at a house. Now the devil shows up. Now another woman shows up. I just didn't care about the characters. Faust did not seem like a tragedy to me. Mephistopheles was the only well-developed character and that saddened me. I was expecting so much more after reading those first few scenes. Maybe if I would have read this a few years ago before I read most of the other great authors I would have enjoyed it more, but Goethe's ideas just did not strike me as profound, at least the way he expresses them. I can't comprehend how people make claims that Goethe ranks up there with the likes of Shakespeare or Cervantes or Homer or Virgil. Not even close.

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Linus Spot-on review!

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