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UNESCO Cities Bookshelf
24.03.2022

 

A well-read person is an interesting interlocutor, but what books did he choose on the bookshelf in order to develop these qualities in himself? The question, of course, is rhetorical and there is no clear answer to it. But we can learn about each of them in turn.
If you've thought all your life that reading fiction wasn't for you, then that's no reason to turn your back on books and not give yourself the chance again and again. Perhaps you just haven't found the book that will lure you into the process of continuous reading? Or did you not pay attention to the details and did not understand what is so fascinating about a book that is older than your grandmother? And why has the work not lost its relevance over the centuries?
Let's take a look at the bookshelf of UNESCO cities together. Here we will meet many different authors from different parts of the Earth and their multifaceted works that have excited more than one generation of readers. How many more such secret meetings with the eyes await them? ..
Among the loud initials of the authors, colorful spines and voluminous bindings, we meet him ... "Faust" by Johann Wolfgang Goethe. The Directorate of the program "Ulyanovsk - UNESCO City of Literature" proposes to look together for the treasured key to understanding and revealing the charm of this fundamental work not only of German classics, but also of the world.

“Speech should strive only from the soul,
So that the charm of a true, genuine,
To touch and captivate human hearts!
J.W. Goethe

Was there only one Faust in the history of world literature?

Goethe's Faust, like any other literary work, has its own unique history of creation. Without comprehending it, it is difficult to come to an understanding of the work, the author of which throughout his mature life (for six decades) sought to comprehend the life of a Man. Faust is not just one of Goethe's works, which is called his main work. It is also the sum total of Goethe's own life.

To understand "Faust" it is equally important to know the life story of the hero of the work, the history of previous references to this image by other authors. Moreover, Goethe's Faust is a work that can only be understood in the context of the history of all European culture, starting from Ancient Greece. And since this work was created at a specific time (the last decades of the 18th - the first decades of the 19th centuries), it is also impossible to understand it outside of a specific time.
It is well known that Johann Faust was a historical figure. So, the following is said about the origin of Faust in the “People's Book”: “Doctor Faust was the son of a peasant, was born in Rode, near Weimar. In Wittenberg he had considerable relatives ... And his uncle, who was in Wittenberg, was a city dweller and well off. He brought up Faust and treated him like his own son, because he had no heirs, and adopted this Faust as his child and heir, and sent him to the university to study theology. He, however, left this pious occupation and used the word of God for evil.
Faust, who sold his soul to the devil, who in this book has the name Mephistopheles, indulged not only in fornication, but also became interested in questions about the origin of the world and man, set the goal of "exploring the root causes of all things."
Faust attracts the greatest writers who seek to comprehend his life path. One of the brightest attempts is “The Tragic History of Dr. Faust” by K. Marlo. Later, G. Lessing began to write Faust and created several scenes. But G. Sachs, a shoemaker from Nuremberg, a Nuremberg Meistersinger, whom R. Wagner later made the hero of his opera The Nuremberg Meistersingers, also turned to Faust.
In those years when Goethe, who did not know "Faust" by Marlo, under the influence of the "People's Book" was carried away by the idea of ​​comprehending the life path of Faust, the plot of Faust attracted the attention of many of his contemporaries. For example, in 1759, G. Lessing published scenes from Faust. But after the first version of Goethe's Faust, Prafaust, was completed, a whole avalanche of new Fausts appeared: in 1775 - Johannes Faust by P. Weidemann, in 1778 - The Life of Faust. Drama" by F. Muller, in 1791 - "The Life of Faust. Acts and Ascension" by F. Klinger, and in 1797 - the work of the same F. Klinger "Faust of the East or the Wanderings of Ben Hafiz". In 1803, A. von Chamisso presents his Faust.

After Goethe published the first part of his Faust, few dared to develop this theme. But, nevertheless, in 1823 F. Grillparzer's "Faust" appeared, and in 1829 K. Grabbe finished his work "Don Juan and Faust".
But after the appearance of the second part of Goethe's Faust, other writers have not turned to Faust for a long time. Interest in him is renewed already in the 20th century, but new appeals to Faust are connected with the history of Dr. Faust more indirectly and arise in the complex context of the history of this century, among them are Doctor Faustus by T. Mann and Master and Margarita by M. Bulgakov.

 

Translations of Goethe's Faust into Russian: which one to choose?

In Russia, Goethe's Faust invariably remains one of the most famous and most beloved literary works, especially its first part. Most importantly, there are several excellent translations of this work at the service of Russian readers. In this regard, Russia advantageously differs from many countries of the world, including those that have developed traditions of addressing the cultural heritage of other peoples of the world. In Russia, the translation of the first part by E. Huber, which was published as a separate book in 1838, was recognized. A full-fledged, truly highly artistic translation of both parts of Faust was performed by the poet A. Fet. Another translation was made by V. Bryusov. But the translation of N. Kholodkovsky, who received the Pushkin Prize in 1917, and the translation of B. Pasternak were recognized as the most successful.
With regard to the last two translations, the following can be said. The translation of N. Kholodkovsky, a professor of zoology at the military medical academy in St. Petersburg, who had been translating from adolescence, i.e., from the end of the 1870s, was prepared for the publication of the Collected Works of Goethe by the publishing house of N. Gerbel and published in 1878. This translation is recognized as the most accurate, closest to the original. If someone wants to know Goethe's thought with the utmost accuracy, to comprehend his images, then for this one should turn to Kholodkovsky's translation.
A translation made by B. Pasternak, a professional writer, a poet who does not need to be represented in Russia, appeared in 1953. Later, the poet slightly edited the text, which was published in 1955. The history of the appearance of this translation is determined by the year of publication itself. In the late 1940s - early 1950s, many professional writers, for example, A. Akhmatova, were forced to deal not with their work, but with translations. For world literature, for its introduction into the cultural space of Russia, this, undoubtedly, was of great importance. Pasternak's translation is good because its author, being a poet, managed to convey the beauty of Goethe's verse, to find a Russian equivalent to his melody.

 

On the Form and Meaning of Faust.

Goethe's Faust has the form of a dramatic work. But this is by no means a work for the theater, although Faust is staged quite often in the theater, and this temptation has been and remains. A. Anikst said very precisely about this: "Faust" was by no means conceived by the author as a work intended for the stage. Goethe did not want to be constrained by the limited possibilities of the theater of that time and, adhering to the dramatic form, created Faust as a poetic work in general.
In Soviet literary criticism, Mephistopheles is not seen as a devil-tempter, but, according to Anixt, "the embodiment of absolute negation." It is also one of the driving principles of life: “Man is weak; submissive to his lot, He is glad to seek peace, - therefore I will give him an infinite companion: Like a demon, teasing him, let him excite him to work. At the same time, Faust is presented as the bearer of the best in man - "reason, noble feelings, he is characterized by the desire for perfection, the thirst for infinite meaning and faith in the final triumph of the best principles of life." The main idea of ​​"Faust" is defined as follows: "In Faust and Mephistopheles, the struggle between good and evil is symbolically expressed."
In fact, it is impossible to understand Faust from the standpoint of the abstract struggle between good and evil. Everyone will inevitably see something different in it and will interpret it differently. Maybe this is another reason to read the work?
Let's reflect on the meaning, form and meaning of Faust together! You can find a work on the shelves of any department of the centralized library system of the city of Ulyanovsk that is convenient for you, and the directorate of the Ulyanovsk-UNESCO City of Literature program is always open for interesting literary discussions.