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on 29 November 2012
I had not been introduced to Marlowe's work (or, indeed, heard of the legendary playwright at all) until after taking the mammoth decision to start an Open University module. This was a Level 1 module for 60 credits; AA100 `The Arts Past and Present'. During the second week, we had the task of reading the play from this suggested A-Text version, alongside an audio track provided by the university. Having not studied for the past 4-5 years, I found the play initially hard to go by. But, of course, this is expected for a higher education student who has been away from academia for quite some time. My fellow students and I found this text to be a surprising read, and, reading from the perspective of an observer of the production, rather than the reader of a novel (or stage-play) helped to put the play into context.
Having not studied much Shakespearean literature, I found `Doctor Faustus' the perfect play to be introduced into the discipline of Renaissance English Literature, with its vastly complex and visionary characterisation. The character of Faustus, for me, is a living representation of the dangers pertaining to seeking knowledge beyond one's physical (and spiritual) capabilities. The Christian message is embedded throughout the play, as was suitably the norm during Marlowe's lifetime, of repentance, forgiveness and God's ultimate will.
The Pearson Longman edition is especially useful for the Open University student, as this is indeed the first set book for the aforementioned module for the humanities. It provides extensive details on the text and footnotes detailing the many idioms and contemporary translations of early-modern English. There are also many more sections on the life of Christopher Marlowe and his contemporaries, as well as notes on the period and life for the common Englishman during the Renaissance. There are some shocking revelations about his life and, ultimately, his death.
I am so glad that the Open University introduced me to this wonderful stage-play and its amazingly complex themes, but, most importantly, its writer. Now I am continuing on with Level 2 studies and have come across the likes of Charles Dickens et al, but Doctor Faustus will forever hold a special place in my literary heart. Additionally, not to miss is the film translation made famous by Elizabeth Taylor, the `Stage on Screen' DVD of the play recorded at London's Greenwich Theatre, and the upcoming Opus Arte production starring Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams from the BBC's `Doctor Who' television series).
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HALL OF FAMEon 4 January 2006
'Was this the face that launched a thousand ships...' There are so many great lines in this play! The greatness of Marlowe was recognised in his own time (a gentle modern reminder of this came in the film 'Shakespeare in Love', when almost every actor auditioning chose a bit from Marlowe, and all of those defaulted to this play).
It is somewhat ironic that if Shakespeare and Marlowe were writing today, they should most like be charged with plagiarism and copyright infringement; 'The Tragedy of Doctor Faustus' is likewise not an entirely original construct of Marlowe's, but rather derives from an anonymously penned German poem translated into English shortly before Marlowe recast it for his play. The German poet Goethe was influenced by the same anonymous source, and perhaps knew of Marlowe's play during his writing.
Dr. Faustus may have been based on a brilliant professor in Germany a generation or two prior to Marlowe. In any event, the idea of the seduction of the power of knowledge was (and continues to be) inspiring. The idea of selling one's soul to get the object of one's desire is also not a unique concept. Knowledge in the ancient world often always involved the spiritual realm, which had both its light and dark sides (one has but to think of the Star Wars saga to see how such concepts remain firmly rooted in our own time). Faustus becomes a conjurer, and strikes a deal with Lucifer to maintain power and knowledge in return for his soul after 24 years.
Despite the temptations to repent, Faustus in Marlowe's text never manages to break free of the temptations. 'My heart's so hardened I cannot repent. / Scare can I name salvation, faith, or heaven, / But fearful echoes thunder in mine ears: / "Faustus, thou art damned." ' Even recognising this, in the span of this one monologue, Faustus talks himself out of despair with the temptations of knowledge and secret power. Unfortunately for Faustus, he spends so much of his time and power doing ultimately useless tricks that he ends up in a worthless position despite his deal, and pays the ultimate price for his deal with the devil.
This edition contains a very interesting essay, including a biographical sketch of Marlowe (who died at the very young age of 29, having already become a leading light in Elizabethan drama), and a survey of his plays and playwriting techniques, influences, and subsequent influence on others. One story bears repeating, dealing with the performance history of the play: 'A legend developed that during a performance in Exeter, in one scene in which Faustus called up devils, the actors counted one more devil than the scene called for and realised that Satan himself was in the their midst. In terror, they stopped the play; the audience bolted from the playing place; and the actors quitted the town the next morning.' Such was the power of Marlowe's rendering, that his language was thought to have magical conjuring power.
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on 16 November 2009
The critics and revisions at the end of the play are very complete and useful and they are what impressed me the most. The play itself comes with good footnotes and overall I recommend it.
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on 5 February 2009
I have never read a play before and the only reason I opened this one up was because I needed to buy it for my Open University course and I was surprised to find I enjoyed it. The book is split with the play on the right hand side with explanations on the left making it easy for you to understand what is being said.

There is also a description in the back about the life of Marlowe, which was interesting as he had lived quite an amazing life, not only this, he had been writing plays while Shakespere was still working on his. Marlowe's death has been shroded in secrecy with many ideas on why he died and I think that helps makes his plays even more interesting.
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on 18 April 1999
I have read and reread all of Marlowe's plays, and this one, written when he was 24, is still my favorite. It dramatizes the fall from grace of Dr. John Faustus, a physician in 15th century Germany. Faustus is unsatisfied with the laurels of earthly fame, so to extend his knowledge and his power he sells his soul to the devil. The tragedy is that he doesn't get nearly what he thought he would, and in the end he descends to using his powers to play sophomoric tricks on country bumpkins. The final scene, in which Faustus realizes it is too late, and he is damned to hell forever, is one of the most terrifying, powerful and moving in English literature.
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on 3 August 2011
I read the paperback description and then I read the Kindle description which says - Damn'd art thou, Faustus, damn'd; despair and die!' _ From scene xviii In this classic and much-loved edition of Marlowe's best-known play, John D. Jump provides the reader with a wealth of introductory and explanatory material. As well as a fascinating chronology of Marlowe's life and works and extensive notes on the text, this edition includes a substantial and authoritative historical introduction to the play. An essential text whether you are studying the play in detail or coming to it for the first time. Reassured, I bought the Kindle. Sadly none of this additional information is in the Kindle version. You can get an equally good copy for the play for nothing. Bitterly disappointed, as this is the first time Kindle has let me down.
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on 6 October 2011
As someone who was recently involved with a theatrical production of Faustus, I found this edition extremely helpful. The historical context, detailed notes and accurate presentation of both the A and B texts all make it much easier to navigate this fascinating piece of drama. Highly recommended edition.
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on 3 July 2010
A good short play by Marlowe that covers the whole life of Faustus from his signing the damned pact to his death by dismembering in the hands of all kinds of demons. Faustus does not appear as a real scientist or doctor of anything looking for knowledge. He starts with such a condition which is bluntly rejected and then he accepts the terms of the contract and he is going to use his power only to pester the Pope, to make fun of the Emperor, though not too much, and to get the Mickey out of all sorts of simple people? He is a clown and it is not his pleading at the end for some kind of salvation or waver that is going to change anything. He is a fool and appears as such from beginning to end. Yet the play is not some kind of religious warning. It is nothing but an anti-Popish farce. The metaphysical and ethical dimensions are absolutely erased. That's amazing because Marlowe's time was favorable to such metaphysical and abstractly religious gibberish and Marlowe resisted it. So that Faustus has no cathartic value for us since he is a clown and we hardly can project ourselves into that fool. Even the episode with Helen of Troy is minimized into some kind of a cliché crossing the stage.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID
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on 19 May 2009
Like the above review I had to read this book for an OU course. It took a couple of scenes for me to get into the language. At first I found myself checking the notes every couple of lines because I was unfamiliar with some of the terminology but once I got into it I was hooked. I ended up reading it in one go and really enjoyed it. The sections after the play are very useful aswell as they provide a lot of background information and put the play in context. Whether you are reading this play for fun or for a course its definately worth a read.
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on 13 October 2015
I absolutely *loved* this play, especially after watching the 2012 Globe Theatre version starring Paul Hilton & Arthur Darvill as Faust and Mephistopheles. Directed by Jules Maxwell, that brilliant rendition of this classic from Shakespeare's rowdy contemporary Christopher Marlowe brought the book alive for me, and is available on Amazon too.

This edition gives comprehensive glossing (on the facing page), with explanations of obscure language and also of meanings not immediately apparent to the reader unfamiliar with this text. It is by far the best version of the play for students and literature aficionados alike.

It also forms part of the Open University's AA100 The Arts Past and Present course, their introduction to Literature and the Humanities. It was the part of the course that I enjoyed the most. Marlowe, short though his life was, produced a work of genius here which still chills the blood and makes us laugh, 500 years later.
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