Let's Read: Marlowe's Faustus

Cat Ana
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The Tragical History of why I have to read this stinking play

Have you ever studied A Level Lit? Don't. For my course, part of the final year is composed of answering questions on whether some texts are Gothic or not - they're part of the module so the answer's obviously 'yes'.

Even so, Faustus (as it is lovingly called by the endless run of students who don't want to add 'Marlowe', 'Doctor', or 'Tragical' to their vocabulary), is actually protoGothic, featuring a Byronic Hero 200 years pre-Byron.

But you can just call John Faustus an Anti-Hero or, in Gothic terms, a Hero-Villain. He is on an endless search for Forbidden Knowledge and also wants to Take Over the World. He is influenced by two contemporaries that nobody likes called Valdes and Cornelius to try his hand at Schwartzkunst, which sounds like an STI or hair product, but is the German for The Dark Arts.

He becomes a conjuror and necromancy by speaking some Latin and drawing a circle with no prior knowledge. He's dead chuffed with this, but Mephistopheles (or Mephostophiles or Mephostophilis, &c depending on your version) knocks him down a few pegs by basically saying that it's his job (as per Lucifer) to hang around and see if anyone starts blaspheming and then go try and steal their soul because Lucifer's lonely down in Hell and Faustus actually was pretty useless at the whole conjuring act.

Mephistopheles tends to wax poetic, so I'm going to be calling him Metaphor-still-is (metaphorstillis) from now on. Also because it's neutral, even though safari is currently saying that "mephistopheles" is the correct spelling.

I mean, it took me an hour to read this play, but if you're too lazy to do that, want to be entertained, and/or can't understand half the shit being said then I am an experienced translator in both Renaissance prose and rhyme and snippets of Latin enough to make sense.

Comments

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SofiGray 3rd Sep 15
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