Monday, February 28, 2011

Faust I

My life is really taken up with Faust right now - I mean Goethe's of course, if one can say that Goethe's Faust is Goethe's, and not say everyone, but...

There's a lot to say, and I suspect I will say more here, but I just wanted to share some of my favourite moments - after all, a scholarly paper is no place for that, so why not a blog entry.

Am I crazy to think that Gretchen is just unbelievably likeable? I mean, is it just because I'm a man, or is her combination of simple honesty with a kind of humanity in the understanding of her own failings what makes her so compelling?

Nowhere else do we get this than in the scene from Part I entitled Am Brunnen. It's Gretchen and another girl gossiping about a yet another girl who finds herself pregnant out of wedlock, and the horrible social consequences of the pregnancy - the scene comes right after Gretchen's own affair with Faust.

The other girl leaves, and Gretchen says:

Wie konnt' ich sonst so tapfer schmälen,
Wenn tät ein armes Mägdlein fehlen!
wie konnt' ich über andrer Sünden
Nicht Worte g'nug der Zunge finden!
Wie schien mir's schwarz, und schwärzt's noch gar,
Mir's immer doch nicht schwarz g'nug war,
Und segnet' mich und tat so groß,
Und bin nu selbst der Sünde bloß!
Doch - alles was dazu mich trieb,
Gott! war so gut! ach war so lieb!

I think it's the "doch" that really gets me here...if only we were all so capable of this kind of introspection...

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