Fist. A tragedy.

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Faust scene in front of Auerbach's cellar in Leipzig, sculpture by Mathieu Molitor

Fist. A tragedy. (Also Faust. The first part of the tragedy or Faust I for short) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is considered the most important and most cited work in German literature . The tragedy ,published in 1808,takes up the story of the historical Doctor Faustus and isexpandedinto a parable of humanityin Faust II .



Also: choir of angels , choir of women , chorus of disciples , walkers of all kinds, farmers, ghosts , witches Animals, Evil Genius, Walpurgisnacht -Figuren, voice from above , a poodle , monkeys of the witch.


In general, "Faust I" is seen as a connection between the "tragedy of the scholar Faust" and the " Gretchen tragedy ".

Heinrich Faust, like his historical role model Johann Georg Faust (approx. 1480–1538) a no longer young but respected researcher and teacher at the beginning of modern times , draws a self-critical balance sheet. He is thoroughly dissatisfied professionally and privately: As a scientist he lacks deep insight and useful results and as a person he is unable to enjoy life in its fullness. Deeply depressed and tired of life, he promises the devil Mephisto his soul, if he should succeed in freeing Faust from his dissatisfaction and in providing constant variety. Mephisto makes a pact with Faust in the form of a bet. The devil Mephisto, who has magical powers as well as humor and charm at his disposal, endeavors to dissuade Faust from the right path. He transforms him back into a young man, takes him on a journey through the world and helps him to thread the love affair with the young Margarete (Gretchen), a naive, very young woman with whom Faust falls in love immediately after Mephisto gives him handed over a magic potion. Faust destroys the young woman by seducing her and thereby impregnating her and by bringing about the death of Gretchen's mother and brother. Gretchen gives birth to an illegitimate child, kills it, having become half mad out of desperation, and is then arrested. Faust wants to save her from execution with the help of the devil; he tries in vain to persuade her to flee, but cannot save her from madness. He must finally leave them to their fate and the grace of God.

Detail display


Satan bets with God.
Scene from the legend of Job on a fresco in Campo Santo di Pisa, by Taddeo Gaddi (around 1290-1366)

In terms of content, the poem “Zueignung” is an elegy , formally a punch . In it, Goethe addresses the characters in the drama himself, reports on the awakening of the creative process and reproduces the feelings that have taken hold of it. He mourns the past times, his youth, his first love and passion and the lost companions of this time.

Foreplay in the theater

A theater director , a poet and the funny person (meaning an actor) argue about the meaning and purpose of a successful theater play. The director emphasizes his entrepreneurial, the poet the artistic, the funny person the entertaining intention. Your compromise is the following universal piece, the fist: This is how you walk in the narrow wooden house | the whole circle of creation from | and walks with deliberate speed | from heaven through the world to hell!

Prologue in Heaven

The prologue in heaven begins with a glorification of the works of the Lord (God) by three archangels . Mephisto mockingly questions their positive point of view . Mephisto and the Lord then make a bet based on the Job bet in the Old Testament. The master brings the language to Doctor Faust, his servant , who so far has only served him confused . Mephisto bets that he can seduce Faust into deviating from the right path. The Lord lets Mephisto have it ( well, it's up to you! ), But predicts that Mephisto will lose: And stand ashamed when you have to confess: | A good person in his dark urges | is well aware of the right path.

The first part of the tragedy

The plot (scene title after Goethe, details in italics )

Night - Faust, Earth Spirit, Wagner
Faust in the study (painting by Georg Friedrich Kersting , 1829)

Busy spirit, how close I feel to you!” - “You are like the spirit that you understand,
not me!”
Faust and earth spirit, illustration by Goethe's own hand

The doctorate scholar Heinrich Faust doubts the cognitive value of science, which is far from explaining what holds the world together at its core . He sums up his years of studies and sees that we know nothing can ! In order to escape the real-scientific dead end, he resorts to magic , following the example of Nostradamus , and conjures up the earth spirit, the active force of nature. He hopes through him to participate in the life of the divine universe: Who is wandering the wide world, busy spirit, how close I feel to you! but is only mocked and painfully reminded of its own mortality by that spirit: Where is the soul's call? Where is the breast that created a world within? Where are you, Faust, whose voice rang out to me? A worm crooked up in fear! The earth spirit withdraws from Faust and Wagner appears.

Faust's eager to learn Famulus Wagner is the type of optimistic scientist who believes in progress and is based on pure book learning. (In the second part of Faust he will appear as a professor and test-tube geneticist and will represent the sober scientific position against Faust's enthusiasm. By creating an artificial human being, the Homunculus , he too proves to be a visionary.)

Out of desperation and a final need to cross borders, Faust decides to take his own life with poison, but is prevented from drinking the juice by the ringing of bells on Easter Sunday , which reminds him less of the Christian message than of happy childhood.

In front of the gate - Easter walk
Faust and Wagner on the Easter walk, lithograph by Gustav Schlick

The next day, Easter Sunday, Faust goes on a festive spring walk with Wagner and mingles with the people promenading. This occasion shows the high respect that Faust enjoys among the rural population for his medical services. The scene gives a cross-section of medieval class society . Citizens and peasants appear, students, craft boys and soldiers, bourgeois daughters and maidservants. In their conversations, different views of the various classes and generations become clear.

Faust reveals to Wagner his inner turmoil between physical and spiritual needs, between earthly and heavenly ambitions: two souls live, alas! in my breast, one wants to separate from the other: one clings to the world with clinging organs in crude love-lust; the other rises violently from the dust to the realms of high ancestors .

A strange black poodle follows the two walkers; Faust takes him to his study.

Study room (I) - poodle scene: Faust, Mephisto

Faust translates the beginning of the Gospel of John . In order to grasp the meaning of the Greek word logos , he considers the translations word , meaning and power and then decides on deed : In the beginning there was deed!

Meanwhile, the poodle that ran up to him is restless. Confronted by Faust and conjured up with magic spells , the animal finally turns out to be the devil Mephisto ( “That was the core of the matter!” 1323), who introduces himself as a part of that force that always wants evil and always that Creates good and as a spirit that always denies .

Study room (II) - Devil's Pact, school scene
The Devil's Pact, steel engraving by Julius Nisle (around 1840)

In the so-called Devil's Pact , Mephistopheles undertakes to serve Faust in this world and to fulfill all wishes here. In return, Faust is ready to surrender his soul to the devil if the devil succeeds in bringing him fulfillment and happiness in life (Faust: I will say at the moment: / Stay! You are so beautiful! / Then you like me in chains hit, / then I will gladly perish! (1699–1702) .)

Mephistopheles builds on Faust's disappointment with his study in order to make the banal enjoyment of life palatable to him: We have to do it smarter / Before the joy of life flees from us. (1818–1819) Behind his back he mocks him: Despise only reason and science ... (1851) .

Dressed in Faust's professor's gown, Mephisto makes a fool of a newly arrived student with a cynical student advisory service and takes off in a satirical all-round attack against university scholarship in general and the narrow-mindedness of individual faculties in particular.

The encounter with the student ends with the entry in the student's register : Eritis sicut Deus scientes bonum et malum ( You will be like God and know what is good and what is bad. (2047) ). Mephisto is quoting the words that the Bible said the serpent addressed to Adam and Eve in order to lead them to sin. By Mephisto in his subsequent short monologue the scene with the words You will certainly be afraid of your likeness to God! (2049) mocked, he at the same time indirectly evaluates Faust's striving to be in the image of God (614) as a repetition of the Fall .

Auerbachs Keller in Leipzig

Four drunk students in Auerbach's cellar try to get themselves in the mood with shoddy jokes and vulgar songs. Mephisto leads Faust into the pub to show him how easy it is to live . As foreigners, both arouse the interest of the drinkers. With a cheeky song, Mephisto knows how to quickly ingratiate himself with their circle, and when he conjures up the desired type of wine for everyone from the table, the mood rises. Faust soon had enough of this rough hustle and bustle, but Mephisto asks for patience: Just be careful first, the bestiality will reveal itself splendidly. The wine suddenly turns into fire and the drunks therefore try to attack Mephisto with knives. Thanks to his magical powers, however, he succeeds in averting the danger and escaping with his fist. The students remain distraught: Now tell me one thing, one shouldn't believe a miracle! ( V. 2336)

Witch's kitchen

Mephisto leads Faust to a witches' kitchen in it - under the declamation of Hexeneinmaleins - a potion is administered, the rejuvenated him and makes him appear desirable every woman. Faust initially defends himself against the hocus-pocus , but then complies. Surprised by Mephistus' flattering promises and the confusing surroundings in this tangle of frenzy , he drinks the magic brew. Even before his physical rejuvenation begins, he sees the ideal image of a woman in a mirror and is completely enraptured by the sight of her - Oh love, lend me the fastest of your wings and lead me into her realm! He does not want to leave this picture, but Mephisto continues him, with reference to future joys in love, with the words: You see, with this drink in your body, | Soon Helena in every woman .

Street (I) - encounter with Gretchen
"My beautiful Fraulein, may I dare to
offer my arm and escort to her?" -
"I am neither Fraulein, neither beautiful,
can go home unaccompanied."
Faust offers Gretchen the arm, by Peter von Cornelius (1811)

Faust offers his company to Gretchen, who has come from confession. The girl, who comes from a humble background, rejects him out of shyness and modesty. Faust is taken with Gretchen's appearance and nature: I've never seen anything like it .

With the threat of otherwise breaking the pact, Faust demands of Mephisto to make Gretchen his lover on the same day. Mephisto, who overheard her at confession, objects that he has no power over the innocent girl. Faust replies: Is over fourteen years old after all. Mephisto, mocking Faust's lustfulness ( you speak almost like a French! ), Urges more patience and cunning. For the time being, Faust should be content with leaving a present for her in Gretchen's room.


On arrival at home, Gretchen wonders who the gentleman was who spoke to her on the street. Because of his stately appearance and his bold demeanor, she thinks Faust is a nobleman.

In Gretchen's absence, Mephisto leads Faust into her room and leaves him alone. In this place Faust feels the sweet pain of love . He imagines Gretchen's previous life and enjoys the idea of ​​a "pure" girl rooted in his poor but tidy environment. Here I would like to line full hours (v. 2710), he explains while looking at her bed.

Faust suddenly recognizes his intrusion as a sacrilege and is alienated from his own actions: Armselger Faust, I don't know you anymore! (V. 2720) Mephisto urges Gretchen to return soon. He hides a jewelry box he stole in the closet and makes fun of Faust's concerns.

Gretchen in front of the mirror ( Georg Friedrich Kersting , 1827)

Gretchen comes back, undresses and sings the song of the king in Thule . She finds the box and puzzles over its origin. As a test, she puts on the valuable jewelry and poses with it in front of the mirror.


Mephisto reports indignantly that Gretchen showed the jewelry to her mother, who then had a priest come. He promptly confiscated the suspicious treasure for the church and promised heavenly reward for it. Mephisto mocks the willingness with which the church rakes in goods without caring about their origin. At the same time he assures Faust, Gretchen ... Think of the jewelery day and night, even more of the one who brought it to her . Faust immediately demands a new, even more valuable gift. In addition, Mephisto should make Gretchen's neighbor his accomplice.

The neighbor's house
“Who could bring the two boxes?
It's not right things. ”
Gretchen and Marthe, engraving after Alexander von Liezen-Mayer

Neighbor Marthe Schwerdtlein thinks of her missing husband, who left her alone on the straw . She doesn't want to cheat on him in his absence, she just wants official confirmation if he's dead.

Gretchen comes and shows Marthe the new jewelry. She advises her to hide it from her mother this time and to carry it secretly into Marthe's house for the time being.

Mephisto brings Marthe a message: Your husband is dead and sends his regards . The deceased is buried in Padua. To an evening meeting in Marthe's garden he wants to bring the second witness required for a death certificate to this fact. Having previously flattered Gretchen that he was ready for a noble admirer, he describes this witness as a fine fellow who shows all the courtesy to Misses . Marthe assures that Gretchen will also be present at the meeting.

Mephisto flirted with Marthe, but quickly withdrew when the newly minted widow is ready to accept his advances: she would probably keep the devil at her word .

Street (II)

Faust asks about Mephistus' progress in his bid for Gretchen. Mephisto hopes for Marthe's help here, but in return Faust has to testify to the death of her husband. At first, Faust only wants to do this if he can inspect the grave in Padua beforehand. Mephisto mocks Faust's double standard: As a scientist, didn't he also make statements about God, the world and people without knowing more about it than now about Marthe's husband's death? Will he not soon make promises of eternal loyalty and love to Gretchen that he cannot keep? - Faust annoys Mephistus' insinuation that his deep quest for truth is nothing more than a devilish game of lies and that his love for Gretchen is not deep and lasting. Still, Faust lets himself into the fraud.

“He loves me - doesn't love me.” -
“You lovely heavenly face!”
Faust and Margarethe in the garden, by James Tissot (1861)

At the agreed meeting, the two couples Faust / Gretchen and Mephisto / Marthe walk up and down on separate paths in Marthe's garden. Mephisto makes every effort to fend off the landlady's undisguised marriage proposals.

Gretchen describes her busy everyday life to Faust. Nevertheless she is satisfied. The love and early death of her little sister, whom Gretchen raised instead of the sick mother, made a deep impression on her.

Faust and Gretchen get closer to each other. She admits that she felt affection for him the first time they met. He speaks of the possibility of surrendering oneself completely and a bliss / feeling that must be eternal (v. 3191 f).

A garden shed

Faust and Gretchen kiss in the garden shed. Mephisto bothers by urging Faust to leave. The remaining Gretchen asks herself, ashamed , what an educated man like Faust might find appealing in her: I'm a poor ignorant child (v. 3215).

Forest and cave

Faust has withdrawn into the solitude of a forest cave and thanks the earth spirit for having fulfilled all his wishes for him. Instead of just looking at nature with the cool distance of the scientist, as in the past, he can now grasp it directly and look into its deep chest . But Faust also laments his growing dependence on the cynic Mephisto and his temptations. He promptly steps in and begins to mock Faust's enthusiasm for the desolate nature ( the doctor is still in your body! ) And to compare his bliss with mere self-satisfaction. Meanwhile, according to Mephisto, Gretchen was waiting longingly for her lover.

Faust condemns Mephisto, because Mephisto disturbs his inner peace and rekindles his desires ( and don't name the beautiful woman! ), But cannot avoid the pull of the longing thoughts of Gretchen. If the seduction of the girl by hellish influence is inevitable, it may happen immediately , even if Gretchen would then perish with him .

Gretchen's room

Sitting at the spinning wheel, Gretchen ponders the loss of her emotional balance: My peace is gone, my heart is heavy, | I will never find them ever again. All of her thoughts are determined by Faust, whom she would like to hug and kiss until she should die of his kisses .

Marthens garden - crucial question

Gretchen senses how distanced Faust is from the church and therefore asks him the “ crucial question ”: Now tell me, how about religion ? Reluctantly and evasively, Faust explains how inadequate traditional religiosity appears to him. He does not want to tie his pantheism to fixed terms such as “God” or “Faith” : I have no name / for it! Feeling is everything; / Name is sound and smoke / Cloudy embers of the sky. Gretchen accepts Faust's answer, but reproaches him for not having Christianity . In this context she mentions her strong aversion to Mephisto, who secretly gives her a horror . In parting, Faust complains: Oh, I can never / hang quietly on your bosom for an hour / And push chest to chest and soul to soul? He gives Gretchen a supposedly harmless, but ultimately (as it later turns out) fatal sleeping pill, which she is supposed to give her mother the next evening so that he can go to see Gretchen unnoticed.

At the fountain
"Oh, incline,
you painful,
your countenance gracious of my need!"
Gretchen in front of the Mater dolorosa, by Wilhelm von Kaulbach

While fetching water, Gretchen meets Lieschen. She claps , a mutual friend, Bärbelchen, was impregnated by her lover and then left. Lieschen does not share Gretchen's pity for the girl. Bärbelchen had to ascribe her fate to herself because of her vanity and coquetry : I was so dishonorable not to be ashamed to accept gifts from him .

Alone again, Gretchen regrets that she used to break the rod over fallen girls. Now she is a sinner herself: Yes - everything that drove me to do so, God! was so good! oh, was so nice!


In front of a devotional picture, Gretchen calls on the Mater Dolorosa to help her in her need and to save her from shame and death , because only she, Mary, who mourns her crucified son, can understand Gretchen's suffering.

Night, street in front of Gretchen's door

Gretchen's brother Valentin, a soldier and once proud of his sister's virtue, learned of her misstep. He fears the shame that will fall on his family. He waits for the approaching seducer in front of his parents' house. This should not get away with him with his life.

Faust and Mephisto make plans to steal the church treasure. Faust hopes to find a necklace as a present for Gretchen. Mephisto offers to get Gretchen in the mood for another night with Faust by means of a song.

Valentin steps forward and smashes the zither of the singing Mephisto. Incited by Mephisto and with his help, Faust fights with Valentin. When the latter's hand becomes lame ( I think the devil is fighting! What is that? My hand is already lame. ), Faust uses thrust at Mephisto's request ! the opportunity and stabs Gretchen's brother. Faust and Mephisto flee the city before the threat of blood spell .

Gretchen is accused of indecency by the dying Valentin in front of the startled citizens who have rushed to the scene. He prophesies an end to his sister as an ordinary whore. Marthe's admonition not to sin in death, he counters with bitter reproaches to the shamefully matchmaker woman . He died through Gretchen's fault, but as a soldier and well-behaved .


Gretchen is attending a church service. In view of the guilt she now bears for the death of her mother and brother, an evil spirit reminds her of the lost days of her childlike innocence and confirms Gretchen's suspicion of being pregnant.

As the choir intones the hymn Dies irae , which foreshadows the Last Judgment , Gretchen faints.

Walpurgis Night
“A bit of thieving, a bit of shoving. The glorious Walpurgis Night haunts me through all my limbs. ”
Copper engraving by W. Jury after Johann Heinrich Ramberg (1829)

Faust is lured by Mephisto to the Hexentanz on Walpurgis Night on Blocksberg . They get caught up in a wind bride, a swarm of witches who ride up to the mountain top where the devil holds court. Faust wishes to reach the summit: there the crowd streams to the evil one; Many a riddle has to be solved. But Mephisto persuades Faust to take part in a witch celebration instead. He offers him to act there as Faust's matchmaker. Soon both indulge in dance and suggestive alternating singing with two lustful witches.

Faust breaks off the dance when a red mouse jumps out of his partner's mouth and a pale, beautiful child appears who reminds him of Gretchen and wears a red string around his neck (a foretaste of Gretchen's execution). To distract Faust from this magical picture , Mephisto leads him up a hill where a play is to be performed.

Walpurgis Night's Dream

The Walpurgis Night's Dream is a play performed on the Blocksberg for the golden wedding of the elven king couple Oberon and Titania , a "play in a play" with numerous contemporary allusions (before 1808).

Gloomy day, field

A few months later, Gretchen (as the viewer learns later) drowned her newborn child in her desperation, was sentenced to death for it and is now awaiting execution. Faust reproaches Mephisto for hiding the development of things from him and for having distracted him with the debauchery of Walpurgis Night. Mephisto mocks Faust's reaction as typical of a person who may be involved with diabolical powers but cannot bear the consequences: want to fly and are not safe from dizziness? Did we impose ourselves on you, or did you force us?

Faust asks Mephisto to save Gretchen. This reminds him of Faust's own responsibility: who was it who plunged them into ruin? Me or you?

Despite the heavy punishment that awaits him in town for Valentine's death, Faust wants to be taken to Gretchen's dungeon. Mephisto explains that although he can euthanize the guard and put magic horses to help him escape, Faust has to free Gretchen himself.

Night, open field

Faust and Mephisto are on their way on black horses to free Gretchen. You pass the Rabenstein , the place of execution. Faust observes floating beings that scatter and consecrate . Mephisto calls them a witches' guild .

Dungeon - Gretchen's redemption
“I am yours, father! Save me! Your angels! You holy hosts, camp around to keep me! Heinrich! I dread you. ”
Gretchen recommends himself to God, Mephisto pulls Faust with him. Lithograph by Wilhelm Hensel based on the information provided by Prince Radziwill (1835)

Faust enters the dungeon. Confused and tormented by guilt, Gretchen initially considers him to be her executioner. When she finally recognizes him, she vacillates between her love and her fear of being dragged deeper into spiritual ruin. Faust wants to persuade her to flee, but she refuses: From here to the eternal bed and no further step! When Gretchen sees Mephisto appear behind Faust, she is frightened and recommends herself to God: God's judgment! I vomited to you!

Mephisto pushes Faust out of prison: she is judged. But a voice from above reveals Gretchen's redemption: It is saved . Mephisto and Faust flee.

(In Faust II , the tragedy is continued and transferred into other dramaturgical dimensions.)

Notes on understanding


After the appropriation and the prelude in the theater , which are not played with every performance of Faust, the prologue in heaven is already part of the action, since the bet between the Lord and Mephisto gives the occasion for Faust's fate.

The two main storylines are the tragedy of the desperate scientist who devotes himself to the devil, as well as the ensuing tragedy of the seduced and unhappy girl Gretchen. A distinction is therefore made between the " Gretch tragedy " and the "learned tragedy". With Gretchen's execution and the salvation of her soul, the first part of Faust ends ; the scholarly tragedy finds its continuation and fulfillment in the second part.

The scenes of Auerbach's Cellar in Leipzig and Walpurgis Night actually do not advance the plot. They are examples of deeper insights into world events, which Mephisto made possible for Faust, who was searching for knowledge.

The scene Walpurgis Night's Dream or Oberon's and Titania's golden wedding is marked in the subtitle as an intermezzo and is also not played every time Faust is performed.


Faust in his study, by Eugène Delacroix (1827)

With the exception of the cloudy day scene . Field is written in verse of the fist . Goethe used the Knittel verse , which rhymes at the end of the text , as it was already used in a similar form during the lifetime of the historical Doctor Faust, for example by Hans Sachs , and the madrigal verse . The meter of Faust not only fits well with the historical background, it also enables a lifelike language of the people.

The end rhyme also supports the numerous comedic dialogues in Faust . Some examples:

Wagner: Sorry! I hear you declaiming;
Do you have a Greek tragedy?
I would like to benefit from this art,
because nowadays it works a lot.

Citizen: I know nothing better on Sundays and public holidays
than a conversation about war and war cries ,
the peoples clash in the far back, in Turkey .

Faust: And what should I do about it for you?
Mephisto: You still have a long time to do that.
Faust: No, no! The devil is an egoist
and does not easily do
what is useful to another for God's sake .

Faust: I think the old woman speaks in a fever.
Mephisto: That is far from over. (2553)

A well-known example of an impure rhyme in Faust points to the dialectic character of the author ("dialectical rhyme"). Gretchen's invocation of Mary, Oh, bow, | You painful (3587–3588) does not rhyme in the standard language, but in the Frankfurt Hessian in which Goethe grew up.

The language is sometimes poetically exaggerated, for example in Gretchen's complaints. For example, Faust's great monologue at the beginning of the plot leaves nothing to be desired in terms of clarity; so speaks a frustrated intellectual: “Oh, now I have! Philosophy, law and medicine, and unfortunately theology too! thoroughly studied with ardent effort. Here I stand, poor fool! and am as wise as before; hot masters, hot doctor even, and pulling up, down and across and crooked my students by the nose - and see that we can know nothing! It just wants to burn my heart! " (354–365)

Historical background

The action takes place in Germany, including Leipzig and the Harz Mountains. The time is roughly the lifetime of the historical Faust (approx. 1480–1538), i.e. the turn from the Middle Ages to the modern era .

The reader meets Faust in his Gothic study. As a contemporary of Luther (1483–1546), he worked on a translation of the Bible . He is very critical of medieval alchemy as practiced by his own father. He himself, on the other hand, relies on magic and necromancy, on revelations from another sphere - in this regard , similar to Nostradamus (1503–1566), another contemporary.

There are anachronisms , for example Marthe Schwerdtlein's wish to receive a “death certificate” (2872) in order to be able to show the passing of her husband in the “weekly paper” (3013) . Neither of these existed in Faust's time. There are also allusions to technical achievements of the 18th century, e.g. B. the hot air balloon (2065-2072) .

References, allusions and connotations

Goethe's tragedy is part of a series of literary adaptations of the Faust material, and corresponding references to the previous texts can be made. By adopting the Job motif, the Prologue in Heaven scene is a redesign of the passage from the Bible in the Book of Job ( Job 1, 6–12  EU ).

In the Walpurgis Night and Walpurgis Night Dream scenes in particular , Goethe incorporated allusions that were unmistakable to his contemporaries. For example, the figure Proktophantasmist (German: Steißgeisterseher ) refers to the writer Friedrich Nicolai .

When looking at Goethe's diverse oeuvre, numerous passages in Faust can be linked to other texts by Goethe. For example, Mephisto's statement about the origin and properties of light (verse 1350 ff.) Is a reference to Goethe's theory of colors .

To understand the figure of Faust, it is also helpful to compare them with figures in other works by Goethe who (as "older brothers" of the figure Faust) also have narcissistic traits, such as Werther , Torquato Tasso or the sorcerer's apprentice .


Problems of interpretation

For fist since its release created countless interpretations, which are not mutually rarely disagree. The reason is u. a. in that the piece brings up many fundamental questions and topics. The scene “Street” (3025–3072) provides a seemingly banal example : Mephisto tries to gain admission to Marthe Schwerdtlein with a fraud; Faust rejects this on the grounds that he does not want to lie. Mephisto reproaches him for not only having made numerous unprovable statements as a scientist, but also lying to Gretchen when he promises her eternal loyalty and love. In other words, love vows are potential lies because no one can guarantee that they will be kept.

Another example (1335–1336) : Mephisto introduces himself as “a part of that force that always wants evil and always creates good” . This can be understood to mean that something good can also arise from accidents, errors and even malicious acts. But who or what is “the power” of which Mephisto is a part? Chance, fate, God? Is Mephisto free at all to want something, moreover something that "always" turns him into the opposite? Or is it just a tool as the prologue suggests? But why should an omnipotent God use a devil to go through the detour of evil to achieve good? Can the good not exist without the bad and vice versa, because both (cf. structuralism ) can only be "defined" in contrast to one another, i.e. separated from one another? (see also dualism )

There are far-reaching “final questions” about love , truth , free will , responsibility , good and bad , which Goethe addresses in his play and which also concern the title character. The universal drama that runs "from heaven through the world to hell" is as easy or difficult to interpret as the world itself. Many interpretations are possible, but not unambiguous or final.

Interpretations against their historical background

Many interpretations were also influenced by prevailing political and scientific schools of thought of their time.

For example, for a long time the view was widespread that Faust's character, his brooding, sometimes introspective, fearless thirst for knowledge, directed towards ultimate things, was specifically German. This led to (from today's perspective strange) convictions such as the one that the German soldiers of the First World War went into battle "with their fists in their knapsacks". In 1943 Thomas Mann wrote his novel Doctor Faustus not only about a thoroughly German hero, but also as a parable of the devil pact that the German people had entered into with the National Socialists .

All literary methods of interpretation use Faust . One has him u. a. Tries to interpret psychoanalytically , dialectically and post-structuralistically . There is no end in sight to these efforts.

History of origin

Title page of the fragment "Faust" from 1790 on the occasion of the first complete edition of Goethe's works

The legends about the life, character and fate of Johann Faust have been well-known and widely edited literary material since the publication of the Volksbuch in 1587 .

Goethe was familiar with the Faust material through a puppet show . In 1801 he borrowed several books from the ducal library in Weimar to work on the first part of the tragedy, including The annoying life and terrible end of the much notorious Ertz black artist D. Johannis Fausti (1684) by Georg Rudolf Widmann and Johann Nicolaus Pfitzer as well as the Disquisitio historica de Fausto praestigiatore (1683) by Johann Georg Neumann .

Urfaust - Goethe began work on his Faust around 1770, inspired by the trial of the child murderer Susanna Margaretha Brandt (whose execution Goethe probably witnessed), which is why in this firstversion,called Urfaust , the love tragedy about Gretchen is in the foreground. The Urfaust begins with Faust's monologue in the study . Enter Mephisto, but the actual devil's pact is missing. After the scene in Auerbach's cellar , the Gretchen tragedy takes its course; the witch's kitchen and the Walpurgis Night are missing. The text was found in the estate of Luise von Göchhausen in 1887 and published in the same year by Erich Schmidt under the title “Goethe's Faust in its original shape”.

Fist. A fragment -Goethe developed the Faust versionfrom the Urfaust , a fragment that was completed in 1788 and printed in 1790. Compared to the Urfaust , the fist fragment is expanded to include a dialogue with Mephisto, in which the devil's pact, however, remains unspoken. The witch's kitchen scene is new, but Gretchen's end in the dungeon is missing. In addition to the love tragedy about Gretchen, the tragedy of the doubting and failing scientist becomes visible.

Fist. A tragedy - in 1797 Goethe added the introductory scenes Dedication , Prelude to the Theater and Prologue in Heaven tothe fragment. The final version of thescenesalready contained in the Urfaust and the fragment, as well as the execution of Walpurgis Night, took place until 1806. The work went as Faust. A tragedy. in printfor the1808 Easter Mass . The story of an unhappy girl and a desperate scientist had become a human drama between heaven and hell.

Goethe worked on the first part of Faust from the age of 21 to 57 . In addition to the expansion of content, the three versions also document a significant stylistic development.

While working on Faust I , Goethe had already created sketches and scenes for the second part of Faust , although he himself did not believe that he would be able to realize this project.

Some later editions were published with the outlines drawn from 1816 by the artist Moritz Retzsch .

Comments on Faust

Due to the great importance of Goethe and his Faust , numerous personalities of literary life have commented on the play, including:

"What a pathetic rubbish about 'Faust'! All pathetic! Give me 3,000 thalers every year, and in three years I will write you a fist that you will get pestilence! "

“Since most of the popular books about Faust originate from Widman's works, the beautiful Helena is only sparsely mentioned in them and her importance could easily be overlooked. Goethe, too, initially overlooked them, if at all when he was writing the first part of Faust, he knew those folk books and did not just use them in puppet shows. It was not until four decades later, when he was composing the second part for Faust, that he also had Helena appear in it, and indeed he treated her con amore. It is the best, or rather the only good, in said second part, in this allegorical and labyrinthine wilderness, where suddenly, however, on a raised pedestal, a wonderfully perfect Greek marble picture rises and looks at us with its white eyes so pagan and divine that it almost looks at us wistful to senses. It is the most precious statue that ever left the Goethean studio and one should hardly believe that an old hand chiseled it. But it is also much more a work of calm, level-headed education than the birth of enthusiastic imagination, which the latter never erupted with particular strength in Goethe, just as little in him as in his teachers and elective relatives, I would almost say in his compatriots, the Greeks . These, too, possessed more harmonious sense of form than an overwhelming fullness of creation, more creative talent than imagination, yes, I want to pronounce heresy, more art than poetry. "

“Thus the Faust of the first part of the tragedy, the passionate researcher in lonely midnights, consequently evokes that of the second part and the new century, the type of a purely practical, far-sighted, outward-looking activity. Here Goethe psychologically anticipated the whole future of Western Europe. "

“Basically, it's the love story of an intellectual with a petty bourgeoisie. That must have happened with the devil. "

“Nature dominates in Goethe's poems. With him you always know what the weather is, what time of the day, what time of year, under what part of the sky you are, even where not the slightest hint is made about it; the outer atmosphere in which his people breathe is placed around them, enveloping them like a certain color tone a painting. This is true even of the most abstract scenes in the second part of Faust. ... He was always an amateur, a lover, a casual poet, an occasional thinker, an occasional researcher. ... Today he discovers the interstitial bone and tomorrow he will write his life story or parts of Faust, but maybe just some completely indifferent report on mines or education. "

“I have my hands and feet chopped off to ensure that the fist has nothing to do with the basic component of the noble German thinker and that one cannot catch this figure from a philosophically significant position. That causes problems for the German educated citizen with his addiction to preserve noble values. "

Goethe's remarks about his Faust

“But everything (especially in the Helena part of Faust II) is sensual and, thought in the theater, will catch everyone's eye. And I didn't want more. If only it is so that the crowd of spectators takes pleasure in the appearance; At the same time, the initiated will not miss the higher meaning, as is the case with the Magic Flute and other things. "

- Conversation with Eckermann on January 25, 1827

“By the way, the Germans are wonderful people! - They make life more difficult than cheap for themselves through their deep thoughts and ideas, which they look for everywhere and put into everything. - egg! so you finally have the courage to surrender to the impressions, to let yourself be delighted, to let yourself be moved, to let yourself be lifted, indeed to teach you and to let yourself be inflamed and encouraged to do something great; but just don't always think that everything would be vain if it weren't for some abstract thought and idea! There they come and ask: what idea I was looking to embody in my fist? - As if I knew it myself and could express it. [...] The more incommensurable and incomprehensible a poetic production, the better. "

- Conversation with Eckermann on May 6, 1827

“The first part is almost entirely subjective; it all emerged from a more self-conscious, more passionate individual, whatever semi-darkness may be so good for people. In the second part, however, there is almost nothing subjective, a higher, broader, brighter, more dispassionate world appears here, and anyone who has not looked around and experienced a lot will not know what to do with it. There are thought exercises in it, I say, and some learning might be required at times. '… I always found,' said Goethe, laughing, 'that it was good to know something.' "

- Conversation with Eckermann on February 17, 1831

Goethe's “Faust” as a template for statements and texts

Winged words

Because of its great popularity and the importance that is attached to the text and its author, and also because of the easy reproducibility of verses, Goethe's Faust is the source of numerous winged words that are often quoted to this day, often without the citizen Origin is aware. In doing so, the verses, taken out of their textual context, sometimes developed a different meaning than the originally intended. An example of this is the quote I can hear the message, but I lack faith , which in the original context of Easter is clearly related to the doubt about the resurrection message, as a winged word but mostly generally as a picture for doubts about a message / truth understood outside of the religious realm. Büchmann cites over fifty winged words from the first part of Faust. Some examples:

  • The words have changed enough, let me finally see action! (214)
  • Man is wrong as long as he strives. (317)
  • Here I stand, poor fool, and am as clever as before! (358)
  • I hear the message well, but I lack faith. (765) - Expression of doubt about the Christian message
  • Here I am a person, here I am allowed to be (940) - entering a personal space where the social norms of morality are not enforced.
  • Two souls live, alas! in my chest! (1112) - Expression of an internal conflict of interest
  • So that was the crux of the matter! (1323) - In the derived phrase , “the core of the matter ” stands for an essential fact that was hidden for a long time and is suddenly revealed.
  • Name is sound and smoke (3457)
  • Gray, dear friend, is all theory (2038) - With the short form gray is all theory, one today warns against losing sight of reality for sheer theory.

Takeover of the scenic arrangement

In 1862 Friedrich Theodor Vischer published a parody of Goethe's Faust with the title Faust III .

Bertolt Brecht parodies the prologue in heaven with a “prelude in the higher regions” in the drama Schweyk in the Second World War , written in 1943 and premiered in 1957 , in which Adolf Hitler appears in the style of Goethe as “the Lord”; Joseph Goebbels , Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler appear like the three angels in Goethe's original and pay homage to "the Lord", i. H. Hitler. In fact, in Brecht's prelude, Hitler behaves like a “little god of the world”, as Mephisto would put it, and is “more animal than any animal” (281–286) .

Another takeover of a scenic arrangement can be found in Brecht's 1941 drama The Stopping Rise of Arturo Ui, which was premiered in 1958 . Scene 13 takes place in Giuseppe Givola's (= Joseph Goebbels) flower shop. Givola and Ignatius Dullfeet (= Engelbert Dollfuss ) as well as Arturo Ui (= Adolf Hitler) and Dullfeet's wife Betty appear in pairs there, who keep appearing from the flower arrangement and then disappear again to make room for the other couple. In the play, Ui is the leader of a gang in Chicago that Givola is a member of. This scene is the scene garden in Faust I modeled.

As a “secondary piece”, Elfriede Jelinek's drama FaustIn and out was premiered in 2012 following a performance of Faust (contrary to what was to be expected, not the Urfaust ). The piece deals with the relationship between the sexes and takes up Mephistus' remark to the pupil: Women especially learn to lead; / It is her eternal pain and oh / So a thousandfold / To cure from one point […] (2023-2026) . The fist scene "dungeon" accesses Jelinek by that of her father, Elisabeth Fritzl Josef Fritzl is held captive in a cellar and raped regularly, can take the place of Gretchen.

Acceptance of presented thoughts

The title of the novel Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann already signals the importance of Goethe's drama for Mann's work.

Mephisto's remark after his meeting with the student: You will certainly be afraid of your likeness to God! (2050) becomes frighteningly topical in the atomic age . Several playwrights of the 20th century tie in with the basic idea of ​​the Faust drama that the acquisition of knowledge, abilities and skills by scientists can be “sinful”. This perspective emerged in the second half of the 20th century in view of the increasingly visible environmental destruction and especially in view of the unleashed nuclear forces through which humanity can be wiped out. The question: “How far can a scientist go?”, Which Goethe's Faust should actually ask, is at the center of pieces critical of science such as Dürrenmatt's Die Physiker or Kipphardt's In the J. Robert Oppenheimer case . In Gustaf Gründgens ' film adaptation of Faust from 1960, an atomic bomb explosion is suddenly faded in to clarify the drama’s relation to the atomic age.

At the same time, the close connection between Goethe's Faust and his ballad The Sorcerer's Apprentice, composed in 1797, becomes clear in this line of argument : only those who are really masters (according to the poem's teaching) are entitled to mobilize supernatural powers. Viewed in this way, Faust is lucky that the earth spirit does not accept him, the (mockingly so-called?) “Super-man” (490) , as one of his own, not as someone who should command him.

Important productions

Theater ticket for the world premiere of Goethe's “Faust” in the Braunschweiger Hof-Theater on January 19, 1829.
Theater bill of the Weimar premiere of Faust, tragedy in eight sections by Goethe on August 29, 1829
  • 1819/1820 - Individual scenes to the music of Prince Anton Radziwiłł were performed in Berlin . Since 1808 he had tried his hand at compositions for Göthe's Faust and had it performed in private. Goethe was so enthusiastic about a vocal performance by Radziwiłłs in Weimar in 1814 that he contributed two new libretto interludes. From 1816 Radziwiłł worked on a dramaturgical embedding of his songs and on the thorough composition of the entire material. Rehearsals, some of them before the court society of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III. , were now accompanied by readings of passages that were not set to music. In addition to lay people, trained actors took part. At the same time there were the first public concerts of Radziwiłł's Faust music, which composers such as Carl Friedrich Zelter , on whose suggestion Radziwiłł had composed, and Georg Abraham Schneider also participated. On May 24, 1819, the first dramatic performance of the study room scenes took place in the theater of Schloss Monbijou in Berlin. Singing and speaking were staffed separately. For the earth spirit apparition, Radziwiłł used the magic lantern projection of a Goethe head, which made the poet feel very honored. The performance was repeated in the same location on June 13, 1819. Six-hour performances on May 24th, 1820, on the 50th birthday of Radziwiłł's wife, Luise, in the Radziwiłł Palace (as the Reich Chancellery, later the official seat of the German Chancellor) and on June 7th, 1820 in Monbijou Castle, were the most complete performances to date in a year that had grown over the years Stage project in which the Berlin intellectual world took an active part in spite of the lay character. The focus was on the scholarly tragedy up to Auerbach's cellar, supplemented by individual Gretchen scenes. Because of the courtly setting, Goethe was apparently skeptical of the company as a whole, but was regularly informed about it by confidants. The work, which he completed only three years before Radziwiłł's death, was performed annually until around 1860 by the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin , of which Radziwiłł himself was an active member and acted as a singer. On October 25, 2005, the Sing-Akademie performed a new performance after the vocal material with the archive of the choir, which had been lost for decades , had been returned to Berlin from the Ukraine .
  • 1829 - Court theater in Braunschweig on January 19th. At the world premiere there was a version radically changed in terms of text, content and the course of action compared to Goethe's original text, which was considered unplayable, and edited for the stage in six sections . The two preludes as well as the scenes “Evening” and “Walpurgis Night” were canceled. The production by Ernst August Friedrich Klingemann particularly emphasized the Gretchen tragedy. The performance lasted over three and a half hours and was a great success.
  • 1829 - Court Theater in Weimar on August 29th for Goethe's eightieth birthday, at the same time as performances in Leipzig, Dresden and Frankfurt am Main. It was a version based on the Braunschweig production, the text of which Johann Peter Eckermann, Friedrich Wilhelm Riemer and director Friedrich August Durand had revised so that eight instead of six scenes were played. The accompanying music came from Franz Carl Adelbert Eberwein . Censorship-related deletions mainly affected passages that were perceived as suggestive and critical of the church; all references to God also had to be dropped. - Goethe, who was annoyed because the decision to perform “Faust” had been taken without consulting him, officially stayed away from the preparatory work. Nevertheless, through Eckermann, he influenced the production and text changes. With Carl von La Roche , the Mephisto, he rehearsed so intensely in private that the actor later said that every gesture, every step, every grimace, every word came from Goethe himself. In a generally critical opinion on the Weimar production, Karl von Holtei compared La Roche's jovial Mephisto then also positive with Durand's pale Faust depiction. Goethe did not take part either in the premiere or in a second performance on November 8, 1829, the last in Weimar during his lifetime. By 1873 the production was staged a total of thirty-nine times in the city.
  • 1875/76 - World premiere, including the second part published posthumously in 1832, in the Hoftheater zu Weimar under the direction of Otto Devrient with music by Eduard Lassen . This production, which Devrient also staged in Berlin, Cologne and Düsseldorf , still had a rigid three-part stage structure. Additional superstructures were required for quick changes of scenery.
  • 1895 - Jocza Savits was already working more variably with open transformations.
  • 1909/11 - Max Reinhardt used the new rotating stage at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin for both parts of the Faust.
  • 1932 - A series of performances of Lothar Müthel's Faust I with Gustaf Gründgens as Mephisto at the Prussian State Theater in Berlin, which lasted until the end of the Second World War . It was here that the celebrated actor and (from 1935) General Manager Gründgens began to develop the classic black and white mask that is now identified with Mephisto. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the author's death, Hermann Simon was commissioned to write new music for Faust. To compose a tragedy.
  • 1933 - Max Reinhardt staged the first performance of Faust I at the Salzburg Festival as an open-air play in the Felsenreitschule . For this purpose, Clemens Holzmeister built a city of Faust with quotes from the architecture of Salzburg, up to 20 meters high, connected by hidden passages and stairs . The galleries were also included in the drama. The decor was naturalistic, as Reinhardt wanted to create a perfect illusion of the end of the Middle Ages. He put the focus on the small-town world of Gretchen. Because all scene locations of Faust I were available simultaneously for the first time, there was no need for renovation breaks . A sophisticated lighting dramaturgy emphasized the simultaneity of events and the basic mood of a scene through coloring. Bernhard Paumgartner composed accompanying music geared towards acoustic realism as well as songs that were adapted to the local color. The young Herbert von Karajan was responsible for the stage music . The premiere was on August 17, 1933. Part of the performance had to be moved to the Festspielhaus due to rain. A complete demonstration in the Felsenreitschule was not successful until August 25th. The reviews were divided: some reviewers praised the sensual pleasure of the production, others criticized the operatic melodrama and the neglect of Goethe's text in relation to optical effects. Criticism of Reinhardt and Mephisto actor Max Pallenberg also had anti-Semitic undertones. Paula Wessely's unusually unsentimental interpretation of Gretchen was unanimously praised . Ewald Balser played Faust . The production was shown with alternating Mephisto actors ( Raoul Aslan , Franz Schafheitlin , Werner Krauss ) until 1937, but was discontinued after the National Socialists came to power in Austria.
  • 1933 - Reinhardt also staged Faust I in the theater in der Josefstadt during the management of his successor as director Otto Preminger . The premiere there was on September 4, 1933. The realization of his project Faust II was prevented by the seizure of power by the National Socialists .
  • 1938 - Marie Steiner staged the first unabridged performance of both parts as an ideological- anthroposophical consecration or festival .
  • 1939 - The Burgtheater in Vienna put Faust I with Ewald Balser as Faust in the repertoire. This acclaimed series lasted until the end of World War II.
  • 1948 - The Burgtheater ensemble played in the Ronacher in Vienna (the house on Vienna's Ringstrasse was destroyed). Director: Ewald Balser, Oskar Werner as a student.
  • 1949 - In Hanover , Alfred Noller made a fresh start after the war with his "Aluminum-Faust", in the title role of Gerhard Just . Faust I was on display at Easter and Faust II on August 28th. Noller broke with the principles of the Faust productions of the 19th century. Rudolf Schulz's stage consisted of a hemispherical frame made of light metal. In the background an aluminum wall reflected the light reflections (of the imagination). The metallic symbolizes the cosmic. The premises from the study to the dungeon were only hinted at. The five-hour version of Faust I had only one line: the Walpurgis Night's Dream was omitted. Auerbach's cellar was a rough drinking scene, the Walpurgis Night with light reflections on the metal wall an orgy of the senses. Faust was no longer the well-spoken pomp of the 19th century, but the man who despaired of his knowledge and thinking, the renegade humanist .
  • 1949 - The Viennese actor and director Leon Askin staged Faust I on Broadway in New York with great success.
  • 1952 - The Berliner Ensemble , directed by Egon Monk, staged the Urfaust as a provocative reinterpretation against the background of bourgeois productions in the GDR . Party scolding was the result. Bert Brecht transformed Goethe's model epically: In the prologue, Mephisto introduces the viewer to the most important dramatic characters. Since the Urfaust is a fragment, Brecht filled these gaps with bridging verses that are read to the audience from a voluminous book. In terms of history, this Urfaust production marked the beginning of the departure from realistic, naturalistic stage construction, which was continued by Gustaf Gründgens and Claus Peymann .
  • 1954 - Kurt Oligmüller (Faust) and Ernst Busch (Mephisto) played Faust I at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, directed by Wolfgang Langhoff . The western Vorwärts-Verlag criticized on January 7, 1954: “The performance had all the characteristics of communist acting Ernst Buschs. The interpretation did not focus on the meaning of Goethe's words, but on the ideological meaning of the course of action, from the eastern zonal 'witch's kitchen' ... “Western criticism remained so ideologically cautious until the 1960s, the eastern critique even into the 1980s.
  • 1955 - State ceremony in the Burgtheater on October 14th for the reopening after the reconstruction as a result of the destruction of World War II: prelude to the theater; Werner Krauss (The Director), Raoul Aslan (The Poet), Hermann Thimig (Funny Person).
  • 1956/1957 - The new production of Faust with Will Quadflieg (Faust), Gründgens (Mephisto), Ella Büchi (Gretchen), Elisabeth Flickenschildt (Marthe), Max Eckard (Valentin ) took place at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg under the direction and management of Gustaf Gründgens ), Eduard Marks (Wagner), Uwe Friedrichsen (pupil). Gründgens worked with his set designer Teo Otto step by step a cleared version. Both confessed to their "lack of imagination" and showed the stage as a bare skeleton. Gründgens developed his concept based on the foreplay in the theater . Accordingly, everything (heaven, hell, big or small world) is the world of theater. The production toured in Moscow and in 1960 successfully filmed .
  • 1976 - Another highlight of the avant-garde directorial theater by Otomar Krejča was created at the Vienna Burgtheater , during Gerhard Klingenberg's time as director : Faust I with Rolf Boysen as Faust and Heinz Reincke as Mephistopheles. This was the last castle production of Goethe's Faust in the Haus am Ring until 2009 .
  • 1977 - Claus Peymann, Achim Freyer and Hermann Beil staged a frivolous play text in Stuttgart . Faust I and II on two days as a coherent piece on the history of the emergence from the Middle Ages to the development of the bourgeoisie. The stage structure was partly three-tiered. Right at the top resided the Lord with his angels, Faust's world initially remained dark. The lighting technology opened up the Gretchen scene, for example. All scenes were shortened by lines with the exception of the appropriation and the prologue in heaven . The performances were sold out for two years. Large parts of the young audience cheered the performers. When Peymann had to leave Stuttgart in 1979 for political reasons, there were so many written orders that Faust could have been played for five years. Martin Lüttge (Faust), Therese Affolter (Gretchen).
  • 1979 - In Schwerin , Christoph Schroth staged Faust I and Faust II in one evening with a series of political references. So everything happened behind an "iron curtain". The production was shown over 100 times in sold out houses and a. 1982 for the meeting of the Goethe Society in Weimar.
  • 1984 - The Berliner Ensemble played Faust scenes with Hermann Beyer (Faust) and Corinna Harfouch (Gretchen) under Horst Sördert . SAGES took up the fragmentary Brecht / Monk staging of 1952/53 and used texts from the area of ​​poetry for his staging, which turned into a settlement with the “Sturm und Drang”. In this way he distinguished Faust's titanism and the titan Prometheus from one another.
  • 1986 - Dieter Dorn's production at the Münchner Kammerspiele. (see also films)
  • 1990 - Faust I & II as a play lasting three evenings at the Dresden State Theater by Wolfgang Engel . u. a. with friends of the Italian opera
  • 1990 - Faust I in the Frankfurt theater by Einar Schleef .
  • 2000 - by Peter Stein ; First professional complete performance of both parts. - with Bruno Ganz as the "old" and Christian Nickel as the "young" Faust. Johann Adam Oest and Robert Hunger-Bühler shared the role of Mephisto. Dorothee Hartinger gave the Margarete. There were a total of 80 employees, 33 of whom were ensemble actors. This 15 million euro major project was financed by the largest art sponsorship in Europe to date from private and public sources. The project marketing included the usual program book, an award-winning, highly professional website and online videos on ZDF . The sponsors were: EXPO 2000 , Deutsche Bank , DaimlerChrysler , Mannesmann , Ruhrgas , the German Federal Government , the Berlin Senate , the City of Vienna and 850 private sponsors . Premiere on 22./23. July and series until September 24, 2000 at the EXPO 2000 in Hanover, guest performance in Berlin (October 21, 2000 to July 15, 2001) and Vienna (September 8 to December 16, 2001). The duration of the performance including breaks was 21 hours; Pure playing time 15 hours, divided into 3 weekend or 4 (or 5?) evening performances, in halls specially adapted for this major project. In the two arcades, 18 different stage rooms were created, between which the audience switched. The single entry price was € 233. A four-part DVD edition was released in 2005 with a running time of 814 minutes (DVD 9 with 2 layers).
  • 2009 - Under the direction and direction of Matthias Hartmann , with Tobias Moretti as Faust and Gert Voss as Mephisto, both parts are brought to the stage of the Vienna Burgtheater . The total playing time is 7 hours. The premiere was on September 4th. This is the first new staging of Faust at the Haus am Ring since 1976, and the first performance of the second part - though heavily canceled - at the castle .
  • 2011 - For the first time in the history of the Salzburg Festival , Nicolas Stemann stages Faust I and II as a marathon performance in one evening. With breaks, the performance takes about 8 ½ hours. In the first part, the three actors Sebastian Rudolph , Philipp Hochmair and Patrycia Ziółkowska play all the roles, sometimes alternating and overlapping. The premiere of the co-production with the Thalia Theater Hamburg was on July 28, 2011.


Film adaptations

Movie poster for the 2009 adaptation


Editions of Faust. The first part of the tragedy

Issues during Goethe's lifetime

Title page of the first edition from 1808

Text editions with a scientific claim

  • Fist. The first part of tragedy. Edited by Erich Schmidt . Böhlau, Weimar 1887 (Goethe's works. Published on behalf of Grand Duchess Sophie of Saxony [Weimar edition]. Department I, vol. 14). So far the only historical-critical edition that has been completed. Presentation of the tradition (manuscripts and prints). Variant apparatus.
  • Fist. A tragedy. In: Goethe's works. Hamburg edition in 14 volumes. Critically reviewed and commented on by Erich Trunz , vol. 3: Dramati Dichtungen, vol. 1. Christian Wegner Verlag, Hamburg 1949, pp. 7–145. 16th edition: C. H. Beck, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-31234-9 .
  • The first part of tragedy. Edited by Ernst Grumach and Inge Jensen. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1958 (Goethe's works. Published by the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin under the direction of Ernst Grumach. Faust, vol. 2). Created as a historical-critical edition. Discontinued before the apparatus band appeared.
  • Fist. A tragedy. In: Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Faust. Texts. Edited by Albrecht Schöne . Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-618-60270-7 , pp. 9–199. Paperback: Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-458-34700-3 . The text follows the last edition or the artwork for it.
  • Fist. A tragedy [1808]. Historically and critically edited and commented by Karl Heinrich Hucke. Aschendorff, Münster 2008, ISBN 978-3-402-12755-1 ( table of contents ). The text follows the first print.
  • Fist. A tragedy. In: Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Faust seals. Faust, first part. Faust, part two. Earlier version (“Urfaust”). Paralipomena . Edited and commented by Ulrich Gaier, Reclam, Stuttgart 2010 (Reclam Library), pp. 7–213. The text follows the last edition.
  • Historical-critical edition of Goethe's Faust . DFG project headed by Anne Bohnenkamp-Renken ( Free German Hochstift ), Silke Henke ( Goethe and Schiller Archives ) and Fotis Jannidis ( Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg ). In work since 2009.

Issues with an art historical aspect

  • Goethe. Fist . Complete edition, text reversal by Hans Gerhard Gräf , contains Urfaust, Fragment, Faust a tragedy, Paralipomena. Thin print edition Insel-Verlag Leipzig 1909
  • Goethe. Fist . With an introduction to Faust and the art of Max von Boehn . Centennial edition by Askanischer Verlag. Berlin: Carl Albert Kindle, 1924. The introduction comprises 221 pages with numerous illustrations on art history.

Reading outputs

  • Fist. Tragedy by Goethe. First part and second part (with illustrations by Josef Weiß), Hugo-Schmidt-Verlag, Munich, around 1920
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Faust. The Tragedy Part One. Reclam, Stuttgart 1986 [below] (Reclam's Universal Library No. 1), 136 pages, ISBN 978-3-15-000001-4
    Edition for schoolchildren, with afterword and notes .
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust. The first part of the tragedy. Hamburger Reading Book, Husum 2019 (Hamburger Reading Book No. 29), 160 pages, ISBN 978-3-87291-028-8
    edition for schoolchildren, with afterword and notes .
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Faust. A tragedy (Faust I). Text edition: Albrecht Schöne. With a comment by Ralf-Henning Steinmetz. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2009, 8th edition 2018 (Suhrkamp BasisBibliothek, Vol. 107), 299 pages, ISBN 978-3-518-18907-8
    Scientific text edition for study and school, with explanations of words, comparative scenes from Faust - early version and detailed commentary

Bibliophile editions

  • Fist. Century edition by Askanischer Verlag. Print with head gold cut and an introduction Faust and the art of Max von Boehn . Print in honor of the patron of German literature Dr. Joseph Goebbels [sic!] ". Askanischer Verlag Carls Albert Kindle, Berlin 1938
  • Fist. Hand-bound and numbered special edition of 250 copies with illustrations by Max Beckmann and Bernhard Heisig as well as two attached original graphics by Beckmann and Heisig. Publishing house Philipp Reclam jun. Leipzig and Deutscher Bücherbund GmbH & Co., Stuttgart Hamburg Munich; 1982

Secondary literature

  • Hans Arens: Commentary on Goethe's Faust I. Winter, Heidelberg 1982, ISBN 3-533-03184-5 . [Standard Scientific Commentary. Line comment.]
  • Johannes Wahl: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Tragedy First Part [including Abitur questions with solutions]. Klett learning training reading aids, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-12-923063-3 .
  • Rüdiger Bernhardt : Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust Part I. In: King's Explanations: Text analysis and interpretation. Volume 21. C. Bange Verlag , Hollfeld 2011, ISBN 978-3-8044-1943-8 .
  • Alwin Binder : Faustian World. Interpretations of Goethe's Faust in dialog form. Urfaust - Faust fragment - Faust I. LIT, Münster u. a. 2002, ISBN 3-8258-5924-X . [Comments and interpretations.]
  • Wilhelm Böhm: Goethe's “Faust” in a new interpretation. A comment for our time. Seemann, Cologne 1949.
  • Gottfried Diener : Faust's way to Helena: Urphänomen and archetype. Representation and interpretation of a symbolic sequence of scenes from Goethe's Faust. Klett, Stuttgart 1961.
  • Heinrich Düntzer : Goethe's Faust. First part. Explained by Heinrich Düntzer. 6th edition. Dyk, Leipzig 1899 (1st edition 1850).
  • Karl Eibl: The Monumental I - Paths to Goethe's “Faust”. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig 2000, ISBN 3-458-34363-6 .
  • Kuno Fischer : Goethe's Faust. 4 volumes (Vol. 1: Die Faustdichtung vor Goethe; Volume 2: Origin, Idea and Composition of Goethe's Faust; Volumes 3–4: The Explanation of Goethe's Faust according to the sequence of its scenes ). In: Goethe writings. Volume 6-9. Winter, Heidelberg 1902–1913.
  • Theodor Friedrich and Lothar J. Scheithauer: Commentary on Goethe's Faust. With a Faust dictionary and a Faust bibliography. In: Reclam's Universal Library. No. 7177. Reclam, Stuttgart 1996 (1st edition 1932), ISBN 3-15-007177-1 .
  • Wolfgang Kröger: Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Faust I. Reclam reading key . Reclams Universal Library. No. 15301. Reclam, Stuttgart 2001. ISBN 9783150153017 .
  • Ulrich Gaier: Faust seals. Volume 2. Commentary 1. Reclam, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-15-030019-3 . [Scene and line commentary in different readings.]
  • Heinz Hamm : Goethe's 'Faust'. Work history and text analysis. 6th, completely revised edition. Volk-und-Wissen-Verlag, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-06-102821-8 .
  • Beate Herfurth-Uber: Goethe, Faust 1, Listening & Learning, Knowledge compact in 80 minutes. With key scenes from a production at the Braunschweig State Theater. Interview with the director Wolfgang Gropper. MultiSkript Verlag, 2008, ISBN 978-3-9812218-3-1 . (Audio CD)
  • Georg Lukács : Faust and Faustus. From the drama of the human species to the tragedy of modern art. Rowohlt, 1967.
  • Eudo C. Mason: Goethe's Faust. Its genesis and purport. University of California Press, Berkeley 1967.
  • Paul Requadt: Goethe's “Faust I”: leitmotif and architecture. Fink, Munich 1972.
  • Heinrich Rickert : Goethe's Faust. The dramatic unity of poetry. JCB Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tübingen 1932.
  • Wilhelm Scherer : Reflections on Goethe's Faust. Goethe-Jahrbuch , Volume 6 (1885), pp. 231-261http: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/1%3D~GB%3D~IA%3Dgoethejahrbuchv00unkngoog~MDZ%3D%0A~SZ%3Dn255~doppelseiten%3D~LT%3DS.%20231%E2%80%93261~PUR%3D
  • Jochen Schmidt : Goethe's Faust. First and second part. Basics - work - effect. 2nd Edition. CH Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-48448-4 .
  • Albrecht Schöne : Faust. Comments. In: Friedmar Apel u. a. (Ed.): Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. All works, letters, diaries and conversations. Section 1, Volume 7. Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-618-60270-7 . [Modern comment. Line comment]
  • Ralf Sudau: Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Faust I and Faust II. Interpreted by Ralf Sudau. 2nd Edition. Oldenbourg Schulbuchverlag GmbH, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-637-88663-4 .
  • Ernst Traumann: Goethe's 'Faust'. Explained according to origin and content. Volume 1: The tragedy first part. Beck, Munich 1924 (originally 1913).
  • Erich Trunz (Ed.): Faust. The first and second part of the tragedy, Urfaust. Beck, Munich 2007, ( Hamburg edition , first published 1949), ISBN 978-3-406-55250-2 .
  • 200 years of Faust . In: The time . No. 13/2008.

Web links

Wikiquote: Faust I  - Quotes
Wikisource: Faust - The Tragedy Part One  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: Reception of Goethe's Faust  - sources and full texts
Commons : Faust Illustrations  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Dictionary network - Goethe dictionary. In: Retrieved June 7, 2016 .
  2. ( Gen 3,5  lut )
  3. Walfried Linden: Two souls live, alas! in my chest, ... The split in Goethe as a narcissistic phenomenon . In: Yearbook of Psychoanalysis 1996 . 1996, p. 195-216 ( online ).
  4. Manuel Bauer: The literary Faust myth. Basics - past - present. Metzler, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-3-476-02550-0 , p. 132.
  5. Erich Trunz (Ed.): Goethe. Fist. The tragedy first and second part. Urfaust. CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-31234-9 , p. 433.
  6. Werner Deetjen (ed.), Elise von Keudell : Goethe as a user of the Weimar library. A list of the works on loan from him. Böhlau, Weimar 1931, p. 44, no. 245 and 247.
  7. Moritz Retzsch: Outlines to Goethe's Faust. In: The Goethezeitportal, accessed on June 7, 2016 .
  8. Rüdiger Bernhardt: Faust I (=  King's Explanations and Materials . Volume 21 ). 7th edition. Bange, Hollfeld 2001, ISBN 978-3-8044-1671-0 , pp. 102 .
  9. Georg Büchmann: Winged words . The treasure trove of quotations of the German people. 19th edition. Haude & Spener'sche Buchhandlung (F. Weidling), Berlin 1898, III, p. 174-177, 183 ( ). See also Büchmann: Winged words. Project Gutenberg, accessed November 27, 2018 .
  10. Elfriede Jelinek: FaustIn and out. Secondary drama to Urfaust. Dramatic text on the author's homepage, available at Archive 2012
  11. Eva Bauer Lucca: "Come up with old love and friendship". Goethe's footsteps in Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus. (PDF; 147 kB). March 5, 2005.
  12. Beate Agnes Schmidt: Music in Goethe's “Faust”: Dramaturgy, Reception and Performance Practice . 1st edition. Studiopunkt Verlag, Sinzig 2006, ISBN 978-3-89564-122-0 , p. 203-214 .
  13. Compositions on Goethe's Faust. Schering Foundation, 2010, accessed April 18, 2019 .
  14. ^ Georg Menchén: Faust in Weimar . Ed .: City Council, Standing Commission f. Culture. Weimar 1968, p. 7-11 .
  15. Hannah Lütkenhöner: Eduard Lassen's music to Goethe's Faust op.57: Studies on the conception, the stage versions and the reception . Studiopunkt Verlag, Sinzig 2015, ISBN 978-3-89564-165-7 .
  16. ^ Pia Janke: Max Reinhardt's “Faust” production at the Salzburg Festival in 1933 . In: Yearbook of the Vienna Goethe Association . tape 102/103 , 1999, pp. 179-187 .
  17. The director Stein in: Peter Stein stages Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In: Roswitha Schieb u. a. (Ed.): The program book Faust I and II . Verlag DuMont, ISBN 3-7701-5418-5 , p. 9.
  18. ^ Sophia Felbermair: Classic and spectacular., September 2, 2009, accessed April 18, 2019 .
  19. Nausika: Faust Suite and others: a belated farewell to Danish experimental music pioneer Else Marie Pade. In: The Sound Projector. May 5, 2016, accessed April 18, 2019 .