Faust, Part 1, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German classic)

“The story concerns the fate of Faust in his quest for the true essence of life. . . . Frustrated with learning and the limits to his knowledge, power, and enjoyment of life, he attracts the attention of the Devil (represented by Mephistopheles), who makes a bet with Faust that he will be able to satisfy him; a notion that Faust is incredibly reluctant towards, as he believes this happy zenith will never come. . . . In the first part, Mephistopheles leads Faust through experiences that culminate in a lustful relationship with Gretchen, an innocent young woman.”

Adam Bede, by George Eliot (British Classic)

“The story of a beautiful country girl’s seduction by the local squire and its bitter, tragic sequel is an old and familiar one which George Eliot invests with peculiar and haunting power.”


Black and white cover for Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, with illustrations by Harry Clarke, translated by Bayard Taylor
Faust

I suggested the play Faust for my book group because I had seen so many references to it in other literature and understood it to be one of the greatest pieces of literature written in German. I couldn’t remember reading any German literature with the group, which made it a book that would require us to stretch a little. Actually, it made us stretch a lot. I was the only one who had finished the first part on the evening of the review. (Since I was leading the discussion, I was motivated!) I was only able to get through it by relying heavily on a commentary. Because Faust is a play, a considerable bit of action simply isn’t in the text, and for that reason, I do suggest consulting a commentary if you are reading it for the first time and not taking a class.

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