Faust and Goethe
Faust is written by one of the most prominent western writers and thinkers, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. A work that he spent almost all his life iterating on and he wasn’t done until he was in his 80:s. It’s a blueprint for how to life, one could say, but also the original “making a deal with the devil” story.
Why read this old book?
One of the life goals I have is to “read all the great works of literature”, and each year i try to chip 4 classics off my list. This year it has been:
🔸 Thus Spoke Zarathustra
🔹 Notes from the Underground
🔸 The Gulag Archipelago
🔹 and, yes, Faust!
Faust in summary
Our main protagonist, Faust, is an aged academic and scholar. He spent all his life accumulating knowledge but have very little to show for himself. No real power. No real achievements to show for himself. No love. He’s feels like a loser. What’s the point of it all?
One day runs into a dog, a poodle, who follows him home. But lo and behold, the poodle turns into a devil—-Mephistopheles, who offers to grant his every wish. He gives Faust the energy of youth and the ability to experience whatever he wants.
What did Faust do with all this power?
First Faust thinks that he could become an elite bookworm and get his hands in the most rare and finest manuscripts. He also tries out the path hedonism and worldly pleasure. He dabbles in this and that, but in end Faust thirst for a purpose beyond himself:
“…A Faustian idea that in order to flourish we need to flirt with things that are quite dangerous. But hold on to a sense of higher purpose.” – The School of Life, YouTube
Faust is referenced everywhere you look
I started a “Faust reference counter” a while back because because I kept hearing about it everywhere, and in very different types of books: The Denial of Death, a Nixon biography, and Steppenwolf, just to name a few.
I listened to it as an audiobook with proper acting, and it was a joy to listen to. Beautiful verse, existential angst, and unexpectedly humorous. The book has two distinct parts, and while the first part fits the description above, the 2nd part was incomprehensible to me. This review is only concerned with part 1.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
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