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Goethe's Faust, Part 1: An English Translation Hardcover – October, 1976

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Editorial Reviews


"Excellent translation."--Arthur A. Moonfield, California State University

"An excellent translation!"--Arthur A. Moorefield, California State University

"We come to this volume with high expectations and the reward is there. There is scarcely a page without the felicities and surprises that only a poet can spring."--Partisan Review

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Goethe's (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux; First Edition edition (October 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374164762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374164768
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,766,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 119 people found the following review helpful By fblaw6 on April 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Vainly in the day time labored, pick and shovel, clink and strike." Goethe worked on Faust for much of his career, but composed some of the best of Part II in a time of life when most are in their rocking chairs or in the intensive care ward of the local nursing home. Goethe in his late seventies and early eighties would rise in the early dawn and compose some of the best poetry written. "I would elevate my mind to a kind of productivity which brought all this forth, in a full state of consciousness and which pleases me still, even though perhaps I could never swim again in such a river." It has been said that German poetry is difficult to translate or untranslatable, and this seems true with some translations of Faust, but the Norton contains a superb effort by Walter Arndt which appears always so on the mark that one suspects Arndt actually embellishes the German, but, rather than quibble over accuracy, it is all so good you will hardly care. Goethe builds upon the medieval Faust legend as a skeleton for his own writing in epic-poem style with various meter fashioned to fit the subject. Faust, weary of the ways of the world (one can almost hear the 60s hippy) embarks on a journey of self-discovery, skirt chasing and empire building finally ending in his 100th year in the ultimate trip, with a little help from his friend, Goethe. This composition is remarkable in innumerable ways. One can use a thesaurus of superlatives: wonderful imagery, perfect choice of words, peerless imagination, beautiful poetry, a unity to the whole which is memorable, as well as numerous wonderful scenes and lines, and always an intelligence that seems to absorb and understand everything. Of course, one can differ with Goethe philosophically.Read more ›
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Enrique Lerdau on August 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having tried my hand at translations myself, I am awestruck by the performance of Walter Arndt. Faust is rightly regarded as a climax in German letters and,together with Don Quixote,The Divine Comedy, War and Peace and King Lear,in world literature. The nobility of its language, the sharpness of its mockery, the breadth of its subject matter and the beauty of its lyricism all make it unique. And all pose seemingly insuperable problems to the translator

What should a translator do? Try to convey meaning as literally as possible? Reproduce rhyme and meter patterns as faithfully as possible? Convey the spirit of the work more than its form and letters? All of these are worthy objectives but they all are competing and, seemingly, mutually exclusive ones.

It is a measure of Mr.Arndt's artistry that these conflicts seem to dissolve in his text. From the beautiful and melancholy Dedication that precedes Part I to the mystical and esoteric completion of Part II I was unable to find a single jarring note, even though I love the German text with some fanaticism. Compare the following:

Ihr naht Euch wieder, schwankende Gestalten
Die frueh sich einst dem trueben Blick gezeigt
Wag ich es wohl Euch diesmal fest zu halten..

Once more you near me, wavering apparitions
That early showed before the turbid gaze
Will now I seek to grant you definition...

Or this:

Alles Vergaengliche
Ist nur ein Gleichniss
Das Unzulaengliche
Hier wird's Ereignisss
Das Unbeschreibliche
Hier ist es gethan
Das Ewig-Weibliche
Zieht uns hinan.
Read more ›
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
After comparing most of the major English translations of Faust (Luke, Kaufmann, Arndt, Wayne) I found Martin Greenberg's to be the most beautiful and accessible of them all. Greenberg does an excellent job of suiting the tenor of the verse to the dramatic occasion, ranging from low comical to sublime lyric. Whereas the majority of previous English translations tend (mistakenly) strive for a uniformly "elevated" tone, Greenberg's translation gets the nuances right. A central idea running throughout Goethe's works is that in any comprehensive formulation of life, extremes must be united. The range of poetic styles in Faust--from high to low, comic to tragic, beautiful to sublime, "volk" slang to epic vaunt--also follows this general rule, and again Greenberg's sensativity to this range is wonderful. While the other translations are not bad, if you really want to experience the fantastic emotional-intellectual rollercoaster ride of Faust, this translation does it best.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Eric S. Kim on February 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a marvel. How he managed to write a dark, complicated, and immensely riveting play based loosely on the life of Dr. Faustus is beyond my imagination. This is truly a great work of art.

This book, containing only the English translation, contains detailed commentaries, selected illustrations, Goethe's own remarks about Faust, observations from modern playwrights, and so much more. A great buy.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Racz on March 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
The text of Faust itself is brilliant. It is so richly detailed, it is an amazing and spellbinding story - though very disorienting. A detailed knowledge of poety, Greek Mythology, and other things will add to successful reading of this complicated text. The translation is very good with only a few errors.

On the flip side of the coin, the book is laiden with notes, interpretations, and valuable details. For anyone seriously going to study Faust, not in the original German, this is for you.
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