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Tragical history of Dr. Faustus (Clarendon press series) Unknown Binding – 1887


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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; 2d ed., rev. and enl edition (1887)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00088PYEQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Richard Pearson on 29 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 4 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
'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.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Simon Wells on 5 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 April 1999
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jacques COULARDEAU on 3 July 2010
Format: Paperback
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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