The second part of Goethe's masterpiece opens with Faust struggling to recover from the death of his beloved Gretchen. The quick-witted demon Mephistopheles soon persuades him to look beyond his sorrow and enter the world of politics and power, but the great scholar is still eager for new sensations, and asks Mephistopheles to reveal Helen of Troy to him in a vision. Overwhelmed by her beauty, Faust demands she be brought back from the underworld - but even this fails to bring him contentment, and his appetite for knowledge remains unsated. Completed a few months before Goethe's death, this rich and allusive work weaves together a wealth of diverse philosophical ideas and influences, reworking the medieval myth of Dr. Faustus and speculating upon the search for truth in the Age of Enlightenment.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born in 1749. He studied at Leipzig, where he showed interest in the occult, and at Strassburg, where Herder introduced him to Shakespeare's works and to folk poetry. He produced some essays and lyrical verse, and at twenty-four came to fame as part of the Sturm und Drang movement - a position established on the publication of Werther. Goethe worked on Faust throughout his life, while travelling through Italy and returning to Weimar, where he directed the State Theatre. He died in 1832. Philip Wayne was Headmaster of St Marylebone Grammar School. He translated the complete Faust in two volumes. He died in 1965.