Faust stories are found across the ages and the arts. From its earliest to most recent expressions, the Faust figure continues to capture our imagination, dealing with problems and themes that are still relevant for a twenty-first century audience. Of the many variations on the Faust-myth, Goethe's remains especially provocative and laden with meaning and is the work most responsible for determining the subsequent character of the Faust archetype. His Faust reflects an individual who asserts, yet wrestles unrelentingly with the futility of faith, the bankruptcy of knowledge, and the loss of meaning. One of the greatest texts of both German and world literature, "Faust, Parts I and II", confronts us with pressing questions about rebellion and suffering, faith and its loss, reality and simulation, order and chaos, weakness and power, technology and human improvement. This monograph offers a new interpretation of Goethe's famous play, emphasising its continuing significance today.
J.M. van der Laan is Professor of German at Illinois State University, USA.