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4.4 out of 5 stars18
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 12 November 2010
I have collected over the years dozens, yes I mean DOZENS, of translations of Faust as well as knowing my favourite passages in German with some help from parallel translations. This translation is as good, and perhaps better than any of them even though there have been many good ones since the unrhymed Louis MacNiece for Faber (chosen for the first Radio3 broadcast in 1949) and the deftly and wittily rhymed Philip Wayne for Penguin.
I came across it completely by accident not expecting for a moment that the Wordsworth edition would contain a new original version. Usually Wordsworth use out of copyright texts that go as far back as the early 19thc like their Dante and Homer but in this case they have really done everyone a big favour since none of the translations done before 1945 would do justice to Faust for the modern reader and this one is a very valuable addition to the many distinguished modern translations.
It was chosen for the excellent Radio production in Sept. 2010 with Samuel West, which was only the third time it has been done. It will be repeated in the Summer of next year. Part Two was condensed but Part One was complete.
I'm only sorry that there isn't a hardback available, on good paper. Perhaps 'Wordsworth' might be equally enterprising in this area. Williams deserves it.
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on 9 August 2008
btw this is the best translation out there, not literal translation, but conveys the exact meaning in rhyme, which makes it very much comparable to the original german rhyme.
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on 14 December 2013
Definitely recommend to those who cannot read it in German, but would like to get a full view on Goethe's transcendental perception of humanity - a key element to a deeper understanding of Western Culture; secondly, mainly the first part, to those who are keen for a poignant love story which is beautifully laid down before us in stunning meter and rhyme. John R. Williams arguably did what very few literary scholars have ever achieved - he adopted a complete work of Goethe's without runing into artistic decline.
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on 21 July 2004
I found this very entertaining to read. It is written aesthetically, (and this is maintained in the translation, not that I have read the original German), and is an engrossing story. I'm sure that there are many allusions and philosophical parables to be found in close study of the text, but I just found it an enjoyable read without having to take it too seriously. Mephistopheles is a brilliant comic character, but there are also subtle insights into the depth of his evil as well. The minimalism of the characters other than Mephistopheles and Faust is stylish and makes the story all the more memorable in retrospect. Reading this makes me feel that all stories should be written in verse, if only the authors were skillful enough. Even though I have only studied Shakespeare at the usual school level, I can see what might be Shakespearian influences or things that remind me of Shakespeare; perhaps this was in places done on purpose by Goethe as a tribute to Shakespeare.
As far as I can tell, the translator has done a miraculous job. One of my favourite lines in the play is:
"But write it all down, concentrating
As if it were the Holy Ghost dictating!"
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on 4 January 2016
An interesting and fine translation. It would be very fine, but there are occasional problems with the metrics. By and large, though, this is the best job since that of David Luke. Inclusion of the "Urfaust" make this a definite plus.
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on 12 June 2003
Certainly, the sixty years Goethe spent writing volumes I & II paid off. Unlike Shakespeare, there is a moral lesson which sums the human experience regardless of one's actual circumstances. By illusion and yearning are we enmeshed in lifes toils, only to find the simplicity of innocence and life's early beauty, before we possessed, was the greatest of our soul. Though greatly influenced by Shakespeare, Goethe takes the life's tale to another level which is wrapped in other dimensions of past, present, and future, in addition to heavens and hells. The Faustian choice is one made everyday and is weaved into every moment, until death and afterwards.
An understanding of Indian philosophy (i.e., Buddhism, Hinduism) and the Sanskrit texts brings a deeper depth of understanding, with their complexity and breadth giving greater meaning to a highly mystical and even transcendental text.
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on 10 June 2011
The book is a must on anybodys read-list but this is printed on very bad paper, and it almost fell apart after I had read it. Compared with most paperbacks, this was of a bad quality. Content: 5 stars, quality of actual book: 2 stars (...if that!)
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on 10 January 2013
Everyone should read it as it has so much to say about the meaning of life for everybody - and that is it
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on 8 June 2013
OK, I admit it. I tried to read Goethe's magnum opus, master piece and work of complete and utter genius, the two-part Kammerspiel "Faust".

I dismally failed.

I suppose I just don't grok poetry. When poor Faust uttered some melodramatic words, and put a chalice with red wine to his lips, I think everyone else got it. I didn't. "OK, what's the dude playing at here?". Then, I read the explanatory footnote: "Here, Faust is trying to poison himself".

Oh.

If I don't even understand what's going on in *that* kind of situation, I don't think I'll ever get it, so I stopped reading. I also wonder why "MonsterQuest" didn't notice the strange black creature mysteriously appearing in Faust's room? Surely a sea-serpent of some kind...?

Instead of finishing "Faust" (yeah, like you ever did - and no cheating, it's in *two* parts), I ordered Goethe's "Erotic Poems".

Well, he was a universal genius, wasn't he? :P
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on 2 February 2004
A beautiful piece of literature, and one that is still relevant today. I have performed this work and I can truly say that the writing in it is skillful and inspiring. Excellent, whether you are an actor, literature student, or simply an interested layman. Fantastic sutff from Germany's premier play-write.
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