Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review: The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus

The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Play/Classical works
Reading Level: Adults
Recommended for: all
Trigger Warnings: IT BE OF THE DIVVEL!! (well, not really, but you know... it does express some views that might upset religious people. Details below)

Disclosure: This was my “random read” for November; unfortunately I could not manage it until now. I actually have two copies of this, both of which I picked up free: one from The Internet Archive and one from Project Gutenberg. I’ve chosen the Gutenberg edition to read, as the Internet Archive one is an OCR and they’re often riddled with errors. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: One of Western culture's most enduring myths recounts a learned German doctor's sale of his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power. Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe transformed the Faust legend into the English language's first epic tragedy, a vivid drama that abounds in psychological insights and poetic grandeur.

My Thoughts: My apologies for taking so long to do my November Random Read! This is not for everyone, as it is a play (I mean, Marlowe is a famous playwright, after all), and a lot of people don’t have the patience to read in that format. However, I have done plenty of drama and I enjoy reading plays and thinking about how I would perform them.

This play presents an idea that I presume was probably pretty heretical at the time, but which I think is probably true. It is during the initial conversation between Faustus and Mephistophilis, which runs (in part), thus:
Faustus: How come it, then, that thou are out of hell?
Meph.: Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it.
This states baldly that Earth is a part of Hell, an idea I have espoused for years. People are so terrified of Death because they’re afraid of Hell. Well, there’s no need to be! We’re living it in every day, right here.

Unfortunately, the edition I have is apparently defective, because at a bit under half-way through the story the device froze up and I could not continue, although I could open other books with no problem. So I was unable to finish the story. However, I did enjoy what I read. I shall have to try to seek out another edition that will hopefully work. In the meantime, however, I believe I should probably go on and read something for which I owe a review. However, I do encourage folks to seek out these sorts of classics and read them. I want to find the oldest version I can find of the original story and read that first, I think, before I make another attempt on this play, because I feel there is a lot of background that I am missing. Until later, then!

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