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Doctor Faustus and Other Plays: Tamburlaine, Parts I and II; Doctor Faustus, A- and B-Texts; The Jew of Malta; Edward II (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 7 May 1998
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About the Author
David Bevington is Professor of English at the University of Chicago. Eric Rasmussen is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno. Bevington and Rasmussen co-edited the Revels edition of Doctor Faustus. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
Reworkings of the Faustian myth are two a-penny today, but Marlowe's original still has a power which few versions since have attained. If you can get through the language, and understand the references to arcane historical figures and events, then you have here a powerful and demanding text. And, whatever the cover price, it has to be worth it for Marlowe's cautionary advice.
My particular favourite is Tamburlaine, which (strangely enough) encouraged me to look into the history of the man behind the myth.
The one down side is his treatment of the Faust myth. It seemed clumsy, preachy, without the versatility offered by a more morally ambiguous treatment of other versions. Perhaps I have been spoiled by Goethe.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Thanks to a fellow Amazon reviewer, I was privileged to see the operatic version of this classic tale under the summer night skies of Santa Fe. I knew the essence of the story prior to viewing the opera, but had never actually read one of the versions. The tale is based on Germanic folklore, and is set in that country, even though Christopher Marlowe is English. His was the first formal written version of the tale. Subsequent versions would be produced by Goethe and Thomas Mann – and, of course there is the opera itself, written by Charles Gounod, and first produced in Paris, in 1859.
Twenty four years of knowledge and power. That is the value Dr. Faustus places on his immortal soul. He will join Mephistophilis (one of the varying names for the devil) for all eternity for “…letting him live in all voluptuousness…” “…to give me whatsoever I shall ask, to tell me whatsoever I demand, to slay mine enemies, and aid my friends…”
Throughout Marlow’s version, he takes numerous jabs at organized religion, for example: “Both law and physic are for petty wits; Divinity is the basest of the three…” and “Go, and return an old Franciscan friar; That holy shape becomes a devil best.” One of the themes of Marlow’s tale is that the bargain may have resulted from too much learning… the desire to read it all. Hum!
Once again the play is the thing… as we have seen acted out over the one and a half years… the thirst for the power of the Presidency of the United States, and the seeming “anything goes” ethos. No lie, no trick is beneath anyone. A deep embrace of Mephistophilis, not for 24 years, but for four. But don’t get me started…
As for Marlowe’s first formal version, written in the late 16th century, 4-stars, and I hope to read the more fully developed work of this tale as written by Goethe.
You could find much thicker copies of this work with extensive interpretation, long forewords, and various other analytical and historical additions. Those may benefit you a great deal. Since college, I have often opted for the simplicity and low cost of Dover Thrift editions. They provide just enough additional notation to clarify issues with antiquated word usage and such, while not disttracting me with minutiae and preventing me from getting lost in the story. They may not be impressively bound in leather, but I buy books to read and learn, not to impress.
The documentary went that Marlowe faked his death, ran to Italy, wrote Shakespeare plays and Shakespeare ran the plays and theater, while he was in exile. I was upset that the documentary didn't have any comparison of the two writers writing, so I thought I would read Marlowe to get my own perspective on it.
There could be two different writers, no comparison at all. Marlowe is masculine, full of a bold energy and a bit Juvenile (Tamburlaine was more about name calling than any real substance) and simplistic plays compared to Shakespeare (there was a bit a surreal or Samuel Becket's "Waiting for Godot" in it though (could have been me)). Shakespeare was a feminine, romantic, a words smith and more complex play structures.
There is no comparison of Goethe's "Faust" and Marlowe's "Dr. Faustus". Goethe's is just a sublime, magical, brilliant work of literature and leaves Marlowe in the dust. Though, Marlowe does hold a lot of inventions in the play and it isn't in anyway bad.
For me, he isn't anyway near Goethe nor Shakespeare but then, who is. You can tell that Shakespeare and Goethe valued his work and that they were heavily in debt towards his works. There is a lot of energy and a youthful ambition running through the plays and I wounder what he would have been written if he lived. You wouldn't be disappointed with reading these plays.
As it turned out, the filmed play was a bit different from both versions in this volume, and it was not immediately clear why that was. I was hoping that the two versions of the play would have been printed on facing pages, so if any dialogue was borrowed from the other version, I could see that. But no luck.
It seems that even between the two main versions, there are new variations in place, and the Globe players, probably in the interests of historical accuracy, were using the text of the longer version, printed after Marlowe's death. So, my plan to be able to follow the rapid fire Elizabethan delivery of dialogue was thwarted.
I ordered a 2nd hand copy, which was in "very good" condition; however, it was comb bound, instead of the usual trade paperback binding in signatures, and glue. That was a momentary surprise, but not critical. If you are fussy about that, don't order a second hand copy.