Book Review of Goethe’s Faust Part One

Where do I begin? My first reading of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe’s Faust (Part One) is a story of such grave and unredeemable sensibility. A poignant work of drama that’s not meant for reading but performing. Be that as it may, I read it to the point of absolute necessity. As if the time spent not reading this book is time spent in a state of total uselessness and disorientation. So yes, it’s not meant for reading but performing. If performing means to fulfill an act as acute as ingesting Faust’s yearning and desperation for adventure, desire, and passion.

Mephistopheles, the Devil incarnate, strikes a bet with God. To lure a vain, scientific, and intellectual man, Faust, to become a beguiled and shallow captive of pleasure. In exchange, Mephistopheles receives Faust’s soul and allegiance. The exchange is greedy and impulsive. As Faust travels through these stages of exploration, he finds himself despairingly holding on his past self, yet impatient and greedy; in search for something greater, larger, something that anchors him to the ground beneath. A stab in the dark. Ironically, to redeem his soul.

What anchored me to this story was Faust’s frustration. The “shadow of a life” he lived, as described by Mephistopheles. Faust’s quest for knowledge, as omniscient as it is, was not enough to satisfy and titillate his soul. It was all a delusion, once sweet and heroic, later became the source of his uneasiness and impatience. Perhaps the passion he so craved was yet another delusion. A truth that is so painful to swallow: that desire and loathing are inseparable beings; one cannot be felt without the other.

“Sometimes a place is very hard to leave-
But it’s just not one’s destination.”