Books I Loathed discussion

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message 1: by Dianna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:43PM) (new)

Dianna | 55 comments Does anyone like "Faust" If so, please tell me how I can understand it because I have been trying to read it for 4 years and I can't read more than 2 pages before I have to put it down because I am so bored. I think it might be the fact that there is something lost in translation.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

There are editions which are translated to rhyme like the original German, and editions which are not. I read both, but the rhyming one flows easier and basically reads faster. Can't attest to whether this is an accurate translation, unfortunately. I think Wordsworth publishes this one. You should make the effort; it's excellent!


message 3: by Michelle (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:07PM) (new)

Michelle (literarilyspeaking1) If you still can't make it through Faust (I personally detest Goethe), try reading Kit Marlowe's play Dr. Faustus. A different take, but infinitely better to read.


message 4: by David (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:16PM) (new)

David (david_giltinan) | 58 comments Dianna:

Coincidentally, just yesterday I listed "Faust" as a classic I wish I had liked more over on the 'Books I wish I had liked more" thread. I read it in German (I lived there for a couple of years), but remember it as being very heavy slogging.


message 5: by Norman (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:16PM) (new)

Norman (normanince) | 48 comments In a course I took donkey's years ago, we studied Faust and I recall liking it. But I have had no desire to re-read it, so I'm not sure whether I can say I would like it now.

In the same course we studied Paradise Lost, and I feel about the same about it. I guess that's why we have these courses...so that these classics at least become part of our reading experiences. And once in a while it is useful when someone mentions Mephistopheles or Milton over a casual cup of tea.


message 6: by Xysea (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:17PM) (new)

Xysea  (xysea) I went through this kind of 'soul' searching phase, where I read about all kinds of deals with the devil, read dantes inferno, read paradise lost. all were difficult, some were boring, but all were rewarding to me in my journey.

I think Faust was better as an opera or a play - I didn't care for Goethe's book. But, as has been mentioned elsewhere, it does depend upon the translation.


message 7: by Dianna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:17PM) (new)

Dianna | 55 comments Thanks for your comments everyone. I am going to try Dr. Faustus sometime in the future. I am glad there are others out there who agree with me.


message 8: by Dianna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new)

Dianna | 55 comments I wonder if it would be beneficial to have a reading of Faust for people who just don't get it lol We might all be able to help each other understand it and maybe it could be taught by a teacher who speaks German.


message 9: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new)

Jason (gireesh42) That's an excellent idea Dianna. Old poetry benefits much from being read aloud in groups.


message 10: by Seizure Romero (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:19PM) (new)

Seizure Romero I took a course in the wayback called "The Faust Tradition" and I enjoyed it, but it was definitely work. We read the following:

Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkuhn as Told by a Friend by Thomas Mann

These are three different versions of the story. WARNING! REALLY GENERAL PLOT SUMMARIES/SPOILERS:

Marlowe's (1604, though it was performed earlier)is the classic morality play: Faust makes the traditional "deal with the devil" and goes to Hell.

In Goethe's drama (1832) Faust is redeemed at the very end and goes to Heaven.

Mann's novel (1947) is an allegory for the rise of National Socialism in 1930s Germany-- the main character contracts syphilis & the story details his failing health & sanity.

I found Mann's version to be the most difficult to wade through, but then it was the end of the quarter and my head was probably ready to explode anyway.


message 11: by Ryan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:19PM) (new)

Ryan Horricks | 12 comments Doctor Faustus by Marlowe is infinitely superior to Faust by Goethe in my not so humble opinion...

if you are looking for a fantastic version of Dr. Faustus, try Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita" This is a brilliant Russian novel that takes the story of Faust and tells it backwords, starting at the end and moving backwards. This time the Devil is in Moscow and is checking on his Soviet experience. Very good dark comic humor, and a chilling use of subtlety in parallels to the KGB disappearances...one of my all time favorite Russian novels.


message 12: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:19PM) (new)

Jason (gireesh42) Other than the title, I don't even see how Marlowe and Goethe can be compared. One is designed for the stage, with a very specific actor in mind, for a very specific theatre, with a very specific intention. The other is centuries later, in a different country, a different task, and a different genre: poetry!

But Master and Margarita. I had no idea that could be read as Faust backwards. Sounds interesting, but I don't quite get it...brief explanation, please?


message 13: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) | 58 comments I just finished "The Master and Margarita", and strongly second Ryan's recommendation. An awesome book! (I posted a review, which I'm not sure how to link to here - it explains in a little more detail what I liked about it).


message 14: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Horricks | 12 comments Not quite sure why you don't think you can compare Marlowe and Goethe's versions..both are plays, both contain elements of poetry, both contain the morality play of Faust. Goethe may be more of a poet than Marlowe, but that is open to interpretation. I much prefer Marlowe as a poet than Goethe. I much prefer Marlowe as a playwright than Goethe, and since both are plays, I much prefer the earlier version. Any time you have different versions or different approaches to the same idea even if in different genres or different mediums I think comparisons are fair. In fact I think they are created to beg for comparison. One takes from others to give honor to but also in the hope of adding to the previous or secretly (or openly) desiring to be considered the better.

As far as Master and Margarita goes the author's intention was to recreate the faust tale but in Moscow and to be told backwards as an Anti-Stalinist book. The devil is in Moscow and a master author is the faustian character. Recommend reading it if you like dark humor and books about political oppression and dissention


message 15: by Jason (new)

Jason (gireesh42) I've read Master & Margarita, just don't get the *backwards* part of it, but it sounds really interesting. Like, is the writer already damned and becomes redeemed by un-signing a deal with the devil? Maybe I'm not remembering it correctly...

I would still argue you can't compare them directly. First of all, Goethe's "drama" isn't a play in the sense that Marlowe's was. Marlowe wrote his in the same way Shakespeare composed: specifically for the Rose Theatre in London (I think this is the name...), it went from his pen to the stage and was published later. Goethe's is a "dramatic poem," with the lines coming from "characters," but really it is a polished poem, intended primarily for reading, edited by Goethe and published in his lifetime. So my bottom line is you can't compare their poetic style, not to mention the fact that they're in different languages (unless you read German...which would be sweet...)

Now, where I agree with you, is that since they deal with the same story (not "play") of Faust, you can compare the two completely different ways they approach it. But in the end this seems like it would reflect more on their own beliefs and culture and time. Also, I think it's risky to say that the one was created as a response to the other, especially because Goethe hadn't read Marlowe's version until after he finished Part 1. I suppose this isn't a big issue, but to say a man devoted a chunk of his life to a poem of that size merely as a response to a dramatist a couple centuries before him is to largely belittle his art. Perhaps nowadays that argument could be used, but I think it degrades the whole practice of writing to assume authors are competing with each other.

On the other hand, you've got "the author is dead" argument which I guess would nullify all these points, but in that case I feel the critic would just be embracing ignorance.




message 16: by Jason (new)

Jason (gireesh42) Not to be bothersome, but just found this conversation interesting--especially the Master & Margarita. So...*Bump*...respond if you have the time, please. anyone? backwards?


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