Backstage with Bill Walton: Should I Finally Read Faust?
Should I Finally Read Faust?
Isn't this iambic pentameter! No, but it's close. Who translated this from the German?
I haven't read Faust probably for the reasons almost everyone else has not read Faust.
Goethe was German.
We can't pronounce Goethe's name.
He wrote Faust almost 200 years ago. (We're not sure exactly how long ago. He spent most of his life fiddling with it.)
It's written as a verse drama in iambic meters (or at least that's the English translation I found). Very rough sledding.
I was too immersed in my career in finance (oh yeah, that may only be true for me).
Goethe is a dead white male (not a problem for me).
Bill Walton reads Faust here:
But I'm a big fan of motivational quotes and I've had this one by Goethe in my organizer for years. So I got curious about its origin and headed to the internet and the occasionally reliable Wikipedia.
Early on most of the themes were Christian where Faust is irrevocably damned because he prefers human knowledge over divine knowledge. "Faust" became the adjective "Faustian" implying sacrificing spiritual values for power, knowledge, or material gain.
In Goethe's reworking of the story almost three hundred years later, Faust becomes a dissatisfied intellectual who yearns for "more than earthly meat and drink" in his life.
The erudite Faust is highly successful yet dissatisfied with his life, which leads him to make a pact with the Devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.
Brian de Palma's film "Phantom of Paradise" was in part based on it.
So was "Damn Yankees" And of course one of my favorite movies of all time, "Bedazzled" with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, directed by Stanley Donen. If you don't already know about the wonderful Eleanor Bron, you must see her in this film. Raquel Welch is also in it. You can view her here, dancing as Lilian Lust.
So what about the passage I opened with? Turns out that Goethe's Faust is a veritable self-help feast chock full with motivation speeches and aphorisms. A wonderful list of them can be found at 95 Best 'Faust' Quotes By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Kidadl.
Some are the standard fare and uplifting. Here's a sampling:
"That which issues from the heart alone, will bend the hearts of others to your own."
"There are but two roads that lead to an important goal and to the doing of great things: strength and perseverance."
Many are much darker, and fun.
"Oh my, but art is long and our life is fleeting."
"One who has passed the thirtieth year already is as good as dead - it would be best to kill you off by then."
"If I wasn't a devil myself I'd give me up to the Devil this very minute."
So, based on what I've learned about "Faust" so far, I just might read it. Looks like this dead white male has a lot of interesting things to tell us.
I'll report back on what I learn in an upcoming post.
And if you’re interested here's a link to Eleanor Bron.
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