Faust - Goethe.docx

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Western University
Comparative Literature and Culture
Comparative Literature and Culture 1020
Laurence De Looze

Lecture Notes 2/7/2012 9:26:00 AM 1775: UR-Faust (1 draft)  academic and social satire  Beethoven: “Song from Faust” (p. 725) 1790: Faust: A Fragment  “Gretchen Tragedy”  Schubert: “The King in Thule” (p. 739)  Schubert: Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel” (p. 753) 1808: Faust: Part One  Prologue in Heaven  Striving  Romantic Irony 1832: Faust: Part Two  the Eternal Feminine The Sorrows of Young Werther (novel), 1774: eipistolary novel – changed notions of love, of masculinity; Werther commits suicide after unrequited love – led to rash of real suicides  Travel writing; translations of Italian and French poetry; collected Arabic poetry > except of Weltliteratur  Wrote on criticism, etc.  Amateur scentist/botanist; studied colour – a “Reenaissance Man”  Romantic period: “national” literatures come of age (nationalism) – summed up on “national” poets: ante, Cervantes, Shapkespear, Goethe  Goethe becomes a cultural institution: intellectuals stop in Weimar to see him Faust  Goethe’s most important work – composed over 50 years  Includes many times of writing: heroic, verse, doggerel, intercalated poems, comedy, parody, etc. Rejects “unities”  Romantic in the sense that it breaks conventions, goes beyond “drama”  It evolves over half of a century; it is a literary process  Includes allusions and many types of writing  There are incantations, poems, songs, etc.  Romantic lied (plural lieder) = “art song”  We can knit things together (plot and theme) through the songs that they’re singing in the epic  All genres spill into Faust; it’s a drama, but not something you put onto stage in it’s entirety  He puts in poems that he actually composed  Searching for the sublime  What is Faust looking for?  He wants to go beyond  The key term that comes up again and again: striving  When they first make the bet, he says “all my striving I unloose is the whole purpose of this agreement”  He wants to go beyond the bounds of the narrow, proper experience  If he ever gets to the point where he stops striving, then the devil (M.) gets his soul  There is a desire during the Romantic people to go further and strive for something that is bigger and approaches the sublime th  The Romantic period in the 19 C. there was a real communication between artists, musicians, writers  Composers are going into Goethe and turning the poems in to music  The songs are the moments when characters were singing anyways  Goethe is one of the real sources for other Romantic composers  Faust, in the beginning, thinks he wants to drink and have sex and party without a care  But then he realizes that he wants something more as well First Draft  Originally about a frustrated academic  In the beginning, Goethe is talking about a very dreary professor  Seating is a constricted space where light hardly enters  He wants to live something bigger  There is the idea of an energetic force that could propel Faust out  His assistant comes then, and they head out  Faust sees a dog that he brings home and it’s a poodle … but it turns into Mephistopheles  He is wearing academic clothes; dressed also as a professor  He promises Faust that he will show him a good time  They go out drinking  Mephistopheles sings a song to the men about a king’s favourite flea  He loved this flea and demanded it would be given respect in court  Eventually the people at court swatted this flea  Metaphor for the encouragement to swat the people who act like fleas in court Second Draft  Faust: A Fraction  Goes back to the Gretchen Tragedy  This story gets picked up by writers and composers throughout the ages  Young woman is seduced and betrayed by the aristocratic man; she was of working class  By the end of part one, Gretchen has had a baby by Faust and has murdered it  She is now in jail and will be put to death  She goes mad; Goethe knew his mad  Pg. 700: Two Souls Speech  The human soul is dragged down and is also pulled to the heights  The soul is constantly restless  Man is always striving; eternally strives  Becomes a principle of Romantic art  Chaos is created through this battle of the soul  Evil is the negation of good  M. is the negation of good, but ends up good anyways; like Lucifer in the Inferno  M. makes a wager with Faust  Faust wants experience  M. promises him that he will give him whatever he wants, but if at some point he ever declares he doesn’t want anything else, then M. will get his soul  Once they make this agreement, they plunge into the world The Gretchen Tragedy  Faust sees her on the way home from mass  So pure, the priest told her she had nothing to confess  M. tells Faust that he wants that woman; he wants to get her in bed  M. doesn’t realize that Faust has these two parts to his soul: that there is a physical desire for her, but also for a spiritual desire  He can’t fathom it  M. makes a lot of snide comments; he is very sarcastic towards G.  He makes an obscene remark about Gretchen and Faust is getting increasingly bothered  Faust, to his surprise, comes to love Gretchen and she, of course loves him very much  Right before she finds the jewels, she sings a song about a king who loved his mistress to the end of his life (as she’s undressing, which is an erotic connection) [p.737]  After she becomes his lover, after she begins to risk her social standing, we get [p.751] another song while she is at the spinning wheel: “My peace is g
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