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Goethes Faust

EDITED BY

CALVIN. THOMAS
PROFESSOR OF GERMANIC LANGUAGES AND LITERATURES, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

VOLUME I: THE FIRST PART

BOSTON, U. S. A.

D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERS

1910

HARVARD
UNIVERSITY

LIBRARY

Copyright, 1892, D. C. HEATH & Co.

PREFACE.

In undertaking this edition of Faust I was actuated chiefly by a desire to promote the study of the poem as a whole. It is not the place here to discuss the misconception which has prevailed so long, and to some extent still prevails, concerning the Second Part of Goethe's masterpiece. Enough that it is a misconception to regard it as a mass of riddles, allegories and deep abstractions requiring some sort of occult wisdom for their interpretation.' It is a mistake, too, to regard it as in any sense a senile afterthought, or as the product of decadent poetic powers, or as uninteresting. Let it not be supposed, either, that these sweeping statements of mine are only the confident proclamations of a new mystagogue who thinks that he has found the key. For the simple truth is that no key and no special order of intelligence are needed. The Second Part of Faust, to be sure, is not literature for children, or for the weak-minded, or for the very indolent, but — neither is the First Part. I only wish to urge here that any one who reads and enjoys the First Part (by which I mean the whole First Part and not simply the love story), should be able to read and enjoy the Second Part also. If he fails at first, his failure will be due probably to one of three causes : either he lacks interest in some of the large ideas that interested the maturer Goethe; or he has not made himself sufficiently at home in that dream-world of tradition which underlies the Faust-drama, or, possibly his vision has been obfuscated by one or more of those well-meaning but misguided persons whom the

late Friedrich Vischer called allegorische Erklärungsphilister. In any of these cases let him first correct the personal difficulty — a thing not hard to do — and then let him read the Second Part of Faust as he reads other good poetry: with a free play of intelligence to respond to its infinite suggestiveness, but without ever imagining that the text is a Chinese puzzle. Doing so he will find that he has gained a permanent source of high enjoyment - enjoyment of a kind (if his experience is at all like my own) that he will soon come to prefer greatly to that derivable from the painful tragedy of sin and suffering with which the First Part closes.

As to the animating spirit of my work it is needless to speak at length; that will appear best from the work itself. I have wrought as a philologist and a lover of definiteness. Taking for granted the fascinating power of Faust I have made it my aim to contribute to the understanding of it rather than to inculcate any particular views with regard to it. I have not been troubled by the solicitude one sometimes hears of in these days, that preoccupation with philological details, i. e., the attempt to get accurate knowledge of the particular matter in hand, could by any possibility in the long run injure the philosophical and ästhetic appreciation of the whole. On the other hand a multitude of warning examples made it both easy and necessary to keep in mind the dangers that arise from importing one's own philosophy’into the poem in advance of a careful historical study of its genesis and a thorough philological mastery of the text.

My text aims to be an exact reprint of the Weimar edition. I hesitated somewhat about the use of the official spelling, but decided not to introduce it. I do not see how it is possible to devise sounder principles for the recension of Goethe's text than are those adopted by the Weimar editors. To depart from these

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