Dr. Faustus

By Christopher Marlowe

58,824 ratings - 3.81* vote

The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is an Elizabethan tragedy by Christopher Marlowe, based on German stories about the title character Faust, that was first performed sometime between 1588 and Marlowe's death in 1593. Two different versions of the play were published in the Jacobean era, several year The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is an

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Book details

Paperback, 64 pages
October 20th 1994 by Dover Publications

(first published 1589)

Original Title
The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus
0486282082 (ISBN13: 9780486282084)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Bill Kerwin

The history of Dr. Faustus, its composition and its performances, is obscured by legend and shrouded in surmise. We know the play was wildly popular, but not when it was written or first performed: perhaps as early as 1588, when Marlowe was twenty-four, or perhaps as late in 1593, the year Marlowe died. At any rate, it so captured the public imagination that people told stories about it. The most vivid of the legends tells us that real devils were once conjured during a performance, that actors were confounded, spectators driven mad, and that the Faustus who spoke the summoning words, Edward Alleyn, renounced his profession from that day forward and spent his remaining days performing works of charity.

Even the play itself is a bit of a puzzle, for it has come down to us in two different texts; the brief quarto of 1604 and the longer quarto of 1616. Early critics tended to prefer the earlier quarto, seeing it as a “purer” version, purged of “low” comic scenes, but later critics like the 1616 Faustus better. Its “low” scenes—although probably not written by Marlowe—serve an artistic purpose: they show us how Faustus, a self-immolating hero who once desired to plumb the depths of knowledge, soon degenerates into a shabby conjurer, a practical joker who amuses himself by cheating a peasant out of a horse. Was his immortal soul bartered away for this? (Personally—being something of a “low” type myself—I enjoy a lot of this buffonery, particularly the scene in which an invisible Faust and Mephistophilis steal all the fine dishes from the pope’s banquet and drive him and his cardinals from the hall.)

For my taste, Marlowe’s play is the best version of the legend—better than Goethe, better than Thomas Mann. He wrote it at the very moment when the adjective before “humanist” was changing from “Christian” to “secular,” when his hero--at one and the same time—could be both admired as an icon of human daring and also pitied as a sinner irrevocably damned. His Faust is not so much self-contradiction as paradox, as gestalt: faces-and-cup--filling the foreground, fading out--forever.

There are many memorable passages in this play, including Faustus' opening and closing soliloquys, Mephistophilis on Hell, Faustus on Helen of Troy, and the parade of the Seven Deadly Sins. But I prefer to quote Faustus describing with delight a journey he took through the air:
Sweet Mephistophilis, thou pleasest me.
Whilst I am here on earth, let me be cloy'd
With all things that delight the heart of man:
My four-and-twenty years of liberty
I'll spend in pleasure and in dalliance,
That Faustus' name, whilst this bright frame doth stand,
May be admir'd thorough the furthest land....
Thou know'st, within the compass of eight days
We view'd the face of heaven, of earth, and hell;
So high our dragons soar'd into the air,
That, looking down, the earth appear'd to me
No bigger than my hand in quantity;
There did we view the kingdoms of the world,
And what might please mine eye I there beheld.

Ahmad Sharabiani

Doctor Faustus = The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe

The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is an Elizabethan tragedy by Christopher Marlowe, based on German stories about the title character Faust, that was first performed sometime between 1588 and Marlowe's death in 1593. Two different versions of the play were published in the Jacobean era, several years later.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هفدهم ماه ژانویه سال 1980میلادی

عنوان: دکتر فاستوس؛ اثر: کریستوفر مارلو؛ مترجم: لطفعلی صورتگر؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، 1340، در 88ص، چاپ دوم 1359هجری خورشیدی موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیایی - سده 16م

تاریخچه تراژدی گونه زندگی و مرگ دکتر «فاستوس»، نوشته ی: «کریستوفر مارلو»، نمایشنامه نویس سده ی شانزدهم میلادی انگلستان است؛ نمایشنامه «دکتر فاستوس»، از برجسته ترین نمایشنامه های عصر «الیزابت» است، درونمایه ی آثار «کریستوفر مارلو» اغلب به سرانجام شومی میانجامد، که گریبانگیر قهرمانان داستان است، در حالیکه ممکن است به قیمت زیر پا گذاشتن انسانیت و وجدان، همواره در حد کمال، از خواسته ها و لذایذ مادی زندگی، سرشار شوند

جاه طلبی، حرص، آز، و قدرت طلبی، از تم های دیگر آثار ایشان، به شمار میروند؛ «فاستوس» که دانشمندی بزرگ، از اهالی «ورتمبرگ آلمان»، و سرآمد همه ی پارسایان، و دانایان زمان خود است؛ وقتی در دانش به کمال میرسد، انقلابی در او پدید میآید، که همه ی دانشها را بیهوده مییابد؛ او که دیگر از علم و فلسفه بیزار شده، و اراده اش میل به قدرت دارد؛ درصدد برمیآید، که به جادوگری رو کند، تا با آن بتواند جهان را تحت سلطه ی خود، درآورد؛ پس «فاستوس» به دنبال دو ساحر، و استاد جادوگری، میفرستد، تا علم جادو را، به او بیاموزند؛ ساحرها میآیند و او را از قدرتها، و مزایایی که اینکار دارد، آگاه میکنند.؛ «فاستوس» در ادامه، با اوراد و اذکاری که میخواند، نائب رئیس شیطان، «مفیستوفلیس» را ظاهر میکند، و از او میخواهد، که پیوسته ملازمش باشد، و هرچه میخواهد، حتی خارج کردن ماه از مدار خود، و فرو بردن کل زمین در غرقاب را، برایش ممکن کند.؛ اما «مفیس» میگوید، که بنده ی «ابلیس» است، و اگر «ابلیس» چنین فرمانی بدهد، او میتواند تا پایان عمر ملازمش باشد، و قرار میشود، «مفیس» نزد «ابلیس» برود، و کسب اجازه کند.؛ و ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 14/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی


Selling Your Soul: A Short PowerPoint Presentation

Good morning. I recall reading an article about Tony Blair

Tony Blair

where the columnist said that one of the surprising things about selling your soul is that the price usually turns out to be so low. There is, indeed, a tendency to think that it's a question of getting an advantageous deal. Here, Faust has landed himself a terrific package, even better than the one Keanu Reaves gets in The Devil's Advocate.

The Devil's Advocate

The top item is Sex With Helen Of Troy. Let me quote the relevant lines:
Is this the face that launched a thousand ships
and burned the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss...
her lips suck forth my soul
See where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
At an emotional level, I find Marlowe's description pretty convincing, though, as a scientist, I also feel obliged to try and estimate in quantitative terms just how beautiful Helen of Troy was. Well, look at it this way. Jackie Onassis,

Jackie O

who was generally acknowledged at the time to be one of the world's most beautiful women and was married for several years to a major shipping tycoon, perhaps launched five to ten ships. So Helen was at least a hundred times as beautiful as Jackie O, even before adjusting for inflation. I hope you found that helpful.

Another imaginative bullet-point on Faust's wishlist is Kicking The Pope's Scrawny Ass.

The Pope

Again, direct comparisons may be a little misleading, and it's possible that the pope Marlowe was thinking about wasn't a former member of the Hitler Youth

Hitler Youth

and hadn't been instrumental in covering up evidence of widespread child abuse. But, I gather from the context, people had equally good reasons to dislike him. Faust sneaks in wearing a cloak of invisibility that Mephistopheles borrows from Harry Potter

Harry Potter

(note to self: check this), and all the helpless clerics can do is try to exorcise him. Faust lets them know how much he cares:
Bell and book and candle,
Candle, book and bell
Backwards, forwards and back again
to damn poor Faust to Hell
As you can see, this guy thinks out of the box and knows how to maximize his opportunities! But, despite everything, when it's time to pay up he still regrets what he's done:
O lente, lente currite, noctis equi!
The hour will come, the clock will strike, and Faust must die...
Definitely makes you feel a little thoughtful, doesn't it?

Okay, summary. If you're currently negotiating the sale of your own soul, check out Doctor Faustus while you're doing the due diligence. There's a significant probability that you've called it wrong. And, if you're so deluded that you think no one's ever going to make you an offer, then you definitely need to read it. Thank you and have a nice day.

Sean Barrs

Doctor Faustus is a tragic figure. He is a confused man bursting with ambition and a thirst for knowledge, but at the same time conflicted in his morals. Faustus is also a genius; he has studied Aristotle’s teachings but finds them beneath him and craves something more suited to his superior intellect. He decides to study the dark art of Necromancy. Through this he summons the devil and he quickly sells his soul for more power; thus, this could only end one way.

A Tragic fall from grace

“His waxen wings did mount above his reach,
And melting heavens conspired his overthrow.”


This, of course, refers to Icarus who flew to close to the sun and plummeted to the earth. This is foretelling Faustus’ downfall and eventual fate as written by his own hands and in his own blood. Indeed, Faustus is unbearably arrogant. He refers to himself in the third person. It sets himself aside from other characters. In addition he believes through his achievements he will be canonized and revered across the world. His lust for power is born totally from vain desire fuelling his imagined superiority. He wants a god like status, but does not consider the consequences.

His power comes in the form of Mephastophilis, a servant of the devil who has to obey Faustus’s commands. Mephastophilis is also a tragic figure. He attempts to warn Faustus of the consequences of selling ones soul to the Devil and the eventual hell that waits, which in his case refers to Mephastophilis existence without the presence of God. Faustus in his naiveté chooses to ignore him as he believes hell to be a fable, and in this does not consider the result of his actions. Faustus’ conflicting nature is represented by the “good angel” and the “evil angel” which speak in his ear one casting doubts and the other encouraging him to sin. These make several appearances during the play and underline Faustus’ eternal doubts and decision making.

Some people are never satisfied


Initially, he is disappointed with the knowledge his power has granted him but the seduction is renewed as Lucifer presents him with the seven deadly sins. This fascinates Faustus, who likes this idea of hell and what it contains. It could be argued that Faustus is cheated. He has a small understanding of the realities of hell and initially believes it to be a fable. So when presented with the sins he believes these to be a manifestation of hells contents and likes the sound of it.

An often raised controversy about the play is: “Is Faustus the victim, Is he being sinned against?” I can see the origins of this speculation; he is coerced into his decision but it is ultimately his alone. Mephastophilis encourages him when he begins to waiver, though that is not till much later. Lucifer himself is the main entrapper. He presents Faustus with the seven deadly sins which delight him and convince him that this is the path but yet again he could just say no and repent, if he wished to. Is Faustus a sinner? I believe he is. Instead of using his ill begotten powers for the advancement of mankind he uses them for vain indulgence e.g playing a trick on the pope.

The summoning of Helen of Troy as sums up the play perfectly: Faustus’ Helen is the knowledge he took and the destruction of Troy is his condemnation to hell. This is a brilliant play with strong didactical roots that drew heavily on Icarus’s fall. I think a lot can be taken from this play.


T.S. Eliot

Eleanor Roosevelt

Proust made the Regaining of one’s Past the key to his life, work and peace of mind. It WORKED for him.

You see him in the late photos, finally released from the self-imposed prison of his hermetically sealed flat, FULFILLED in his fame and in his release from his inner devils.

FREED AT LAST - Eternally!

Just so, we must all try to OWN our own past.

In the great book Drama of the Gifted Child the author, a European psychologist, says FEW of us have had a good childhood. No matter what we think now.

We simply have forgotten the bad parts.

But that childhood holds the key, the book, Gifted Child tells us, if we delve DEEPLY into its gritty details.

A Remembrance of Things Past is that key.

Once we see it all coming back plainly, as Proust did, we can RECOVER OUR NOW PLAYED-OUT LIFE.

No kidding.

Christopher Marlowe OWNED his life. Love, pain - the whole darned thing. No ersatz half-life for him.

And they say had he lived longer, he woulda equaled Shakespeare!

And reading this play can help restore OUR life - in all its barely-remembered explosive violence.

There is always SOMETHING buried in our past that we’re continually Forgetting to Remember! Re-owned, it can be our Treasure Buried in a Field.

Cause it can give us NEW LIFE.

Marlowe was a searcher like us. But he saw the Value of Living Each Moment as his Last. It’s good advice for us to call our own.

So when you get to the final hours of your life, you will not cry out with the doomed Dr Faustus, in his last minutes:

Gallop SLOWLY, O ye Horses of the Night!

For you will have lived your life FULLY -

And will be HAPPY to Finally - at long last - Sleep Endlessly.

Manuel Antão

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

I Do Repent, and Yet I Do Despair: "Doctor Faustus" by Christopher Marlowe, Simon Trussler

For me, the key to Faustus is his interaction in Act V, Scene I with the "old man". The old man gives us Marlowe's theology:
“Yet, yet, thou hast an amiable soul,”
—even after Faustus has made his deal with the devil and used the power he got for the previous 23 'years' and 364 'days', Faustus's soul is lovable. Just repent! Faustus replies:
“Where art thou, Faustus? Wretch, what hast thou done?
Damned art thou, Faustus, damned: despair and die.”
Echoing the stories of Cain after his fratricide and Jesus on the cross, Faustus insists on his damnation. The old man contradicts him:
“Oh stay, good Faustus, stay thy desperate steps.
[. . .
…] call for mercy and avoid despair.”
The old man leaves, and Faustus speaks out his dilemma:
“I do repent, and yet I do despair.”
Mephistophilis calls Faustus a "traitor", and "arrest[s his] soul / For disobedience" — don't doubt the keenness of Marlowe's irony, or sarcasm —, and Faustus repents of his repentance —irony! sarcasm! —, and gets his final wish, to see "the face that launched a thousand ships". While he's going on about how he'll "be Paris" and get Helen—does Faustus not remember how that turned out??—, during his poetry the old man returns to the stage. When Faustus leaves, intoxicated with sexual love for Helen, the old man, before defying the devils who've come to take his body to fire (but not his soul), says of Faustus:
“Accursed Faustus, miserable man,
That from thy soul exclud'st the grace of heaven,
And fliest the throne of his tribunal seat.”
Faustus doesn't crave knowledge: he goes through the catalogue of human expertise at the beginning of the play and finds, study by study, their futility, and turns to "necromantic books": "A sound magician is a demi-god."
If you're into 16th century literature, read on.


I keep thinking of Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) as if he had been his own Faustus, but he must have been tricked because he did not get his twenty-four years of devilish powers. Just a few, very few in fact.

He was a writer of sharp wits who could flex his Disputatio abilities better than a dagger, and had an impeccable formal education of a solidity that even his more famous contemporary would have wished for himself.

So soon he profits in divinity,
The fruitful plot of scholarism graced,
That shortly he was graced with doctor’s name.
Excelling all whose sweet delight disputes
In heavenly matters of theology

But he played with fire. Having attained the highest degree of erudition that an education in the temple of Cambridge could offer him, he wanted more. All the formal knowledge available was not sufficient. Marlowe turned to magic; he wanted to unveil the hidden and attain truth. He turned to the witchcraft of espionage – the truth in religion and the truth in power. He seems to have signed a pact with the secret service of Elizabeth I, at a time when religion was radioactive. He burnt himself even before he arrived, if he ever did, to Hell.

His waxen wings did mount above his reach,
And melting heavens conspired his overthrow.

It is both uncanny and remarkable and mystifying that Christopher Marlowe should have been attracted so easily to story of Faust. The original and anonymous German text had been first published in Frankfurt in 1587 and may have been translated into English as early as in 1588. Our writer may have encountered the original text either during his stay in the Continent or the translated version back in England. Either way, he was immediately fascinated by its story because it is thought that he was already working at his play as early 1588-89, even if it was not published until 1604, after his death. There are in fact two extant versions, unglamorously named A & B. The A is the one first printed and in 1616 the B version.

The latter is longer and therefore has material not present in A, but the earlier text also has some lines not present in the B version. Current scholarship holds the A text as the closest to Marlowe’s creation and the B as the result of modifications of subsequent productions.

I have read version A and watched a DVD with a production from 2009 filmed at the Greenwich Theatre in London and directed by Elizabeth Freestone. The performance is also based on version A, which surprised me given the more dramatic nature of the B text.

Of course Marlow took very many elements from the German text. The structure of the plot is very much the same, with similar episodes involving The Emperor Charles V, the Pope, etc... Mephastophilis (sic) is also in the guise of a friar, and even the names of some secondary characters, such as Faust’s servant Wagner, are maintained as well.

But this is a work by Marlowe and it shows.

As a play that combines both prose and blank verse it has been dramatized into a form that follows, loosely, the tradition of the morality plays. This means that there is a fair amount of humour. Some scenes are unreservedly funny, and the best is the ridiculously popish Pope and the hilarious visit of the invisible Faust when with a series of silly tricks he and Mephistopheles disconcert the Roman curia. Apart from parody, there is also slapstick and clownish characters, and the audience certainly laughed out loud in the Freestone production when the desired bride for Faustus lifts her skirts and reveals muscular and hairy legs and a moving hip that thrusts forward its codpiece.

Marlowe’s signature is also felt in the importance given to debates, and he knows well the power of language (Be silent then, for danger is in words). As a master in argumentation, he plays with the traps of dialogue and embroilment in logical thinking.

Scholar – Where is your master?
Wagner - God in heaven knows.

Scholar – Why dost not thou know?
Wagner – Yes, I know, but that follows not.

Marlowe’s Disputatio abilities had of course been trained in Latin.

(Bene disserere est finis logices)
Is to dispute well logic’s chiefest end?

(Si peccase Negamus, fallimur
Et nulla est in nobis veritas).
If we say that we have no sin,
We deceive ourselves, and there’s no truth in us.
Why then belike, we must sin,
And so consequently die.

His logistical gymnastics and his passion for knowledge also approach him, dangerously, to an understanding of astrology that is not too divine. Again, we see Marlowe through his Faust when he questions the Devil’s envoy and the latter cannot give an explanation to the retrograde motion of the planets. The still Ptolemaic earth was very near its end.

(Faust) - Tush, these slender trifles Wagner can decide.
Hath Mephastophilis no greater skill?
Who knows not the double motion of the planets?
The first is finished in a natural day,
The second thus, as Saturn in thirty years,
Jupiter in twelve, Mars in four, the sun, Venus and Mercury in a year, the moon in twenty-eight days.

But it is in the ambiguity in his treatment of religion in Doctor Faust where we feel the mark of Christopher Marlowe. In dealing with Destiny and Free will, he offers us a Faust who was, from the very beginning, doomed. And his despair and rebellion at God’s deafness in his last request for Salvation was a modification by Marlowe of the original Faust.

O God,
If thou wilt not have mercy on my soul,
Yet for Christ’s sake, whose blood hath ransomed me,
Impose some end to my incessant pain.
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
A hundred thousand, and at last be saved.

And as a gift to delight my readers, you shall have:

Mephistopheles: I’ll fetch him somewhat to delight his mind (Act 2.1)


Roy Lotz

How to Become a Successful Elizabethan Playwright in 7 Easy Steps

1. Consider visiting Elizabethan England. When you're there, take careful notes. The first thing you'll notice is that most people talk in blank verse. Spend enough time there, and you might start speaking like that too!

2. Set a routine! Successful writers abide by a careful schedule, allowing them to keep their work on track. Most Elizabethan playwrights prefer to write in the morning, setting aside the evening for brothels, bar fights, and run-ins with the police.

3. As the old saying goes, write what you know. It might seem boring to you since it's your daily life, but trust me: people will be interested in ghosts and demons and figures from ancient history if you write about them honestly. As Hemingway said, "All you have to do is write one true iambic pentameter."

4. Be enigmatic. Try dying an early inexplicable death, or leaving no concrete evidence of your life. Get creative! Maybe put obscure clues about your real identity buried in famous publications. Oh, and don't forget, an ambiguous sexuality is always a plus!

5. Don't just entertain your readers, but your editors too! Make sure to leave multiple, contradictory copies of your plays after you die, so future editors can try to figure out which is the right one. Keep some differences small, just a few words here and there, and also make some big variations by cutting out or rearranging whole scenes. For extra fun, why not let a friend write a few bits of your plays?

6. Facial hair.

7. Either directly influence, personally know, be reputed to be, or best of all, actually be, William Shakespeare.

Ivana Books Are Magic

Dr. Faustus is the only Marlowe's play that I reread periodically. I remember being blown away with it the first time I read years ago (back in Uni) and it stayed with with over the years. I still consider it to be his best play. Its complexity lies in its wonderful ambiguity. Marlowe asked some revolutionary questions in this one. This Elizabethan playwright was not afraid to tackle scientific, theological and human questions. The legend of Doctor Faustus gave flight to his imagination and his play is the only preserved first dramatization of it that we know of.

Based on a German legend (and possibly a lost play), the plot of Dr. Faustus is pretty straightforward and simple. Marlowe didn't come up with the story/the concept himself, nor did he focus much on the plot. Marlowe is not the best dramatist in terms of developing a story and timing it perfectly, but his verse is always potent with meaning. As a playwright, Marlowe is visibly influenced by the classics. Moreover, he focuses primarily on philosophical and intellectual questions. Marlowe made the legend of Faustus interesting by introducing interesting moral dilemmas and ambiguity. He infused curiosity for knowledgeable into his protagonist, making him more complex than just a power hungry men. Faustus' intellectual cravings, his classical education and scientific questioning make him a typical Renaissance man. Marlowe was just the man to write such an intriguing play, being a very educated man with a troubled relationship with religion himself. Indeed, Marlowe breathed much complexity into this tale. The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus is a beautifully written play that stands the test of time well.

For me personally, the most memorable lines in the play are the following:

“Mephistopheles: Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Think'st thou that I, who saw the face of God
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?”

The play stroke me as a bit unusual in that it seems to be most powerful at its beginning, but that might be for a reason. Throughout the play, there are many references to hell. It was quite bold of Marlowe to insist that hell is a state of mind, I would say. Not something preached at the churches of the time (or at the moment).

“Mephistopheles: Within the bowels of these elements,
Where we are tortured and remain forever.
Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
In one self place, for where we are is hell,
And where hell is must we ever be.
And, to conclude, when all the world dissolves,
And every creature shall be purified,
All places shall be hell that is not heaven.”

Andrew Breslin

I don't know about you, but my idea of a good time is to sneak into a gathering of Elizabethan literary scholars and just provoke the living shit out of them. I like to get them feuding about whether Shakespeare was a genius of surpassing magnitude, standing well above Marlowe and the rest in raw poetic brilliance, or simply the only one among the group who attended a marketing class. It's fun to re-open the perpetual debate on Edward de Vere's alleged authorship of the Bard's plays, then sit back and watch the Stratfordians and Oxfordians have at it like Hatfields and McCoys, but with more teeth. And of course there's always the big question: Ben Jonson or Thomas Kyd: who would win in a fight?

Get your scholars good and liquored up, to lubricate the evening's intellectual exchange. Soon they'll be hurling invective, recriminations, and, with any luck, rare 18th century editions of John Fletcher. And when the dust settles and all those who have not been beaten into an over-educated paste agree on the obvious: that Jonson would kick Kyd's ass, and that the entire Oxfordian school is a bunch of elitist snobs, the remaining conscious academics might groggily opine as to whether Shakespeare's contemporaries were every bit the genius he was, but with bad PR. And I'm chiming in to say that while they may have been very good, Bill is still the best.

Dr. Faustus is, even after over four centuries, still an entertaining and thought-provoking play. In contrast, I myself expect that in another few decades I will be fertilizer. So it's stood the test of time very well indeed, but I'll never read it again, nor would I be especially excited if a theater-troupe were planning a production in my area, except for the opportunity to dress up all diabolical and really fuck with people leaving the show. Ha. That would be fun. But unless I actually knew someone in the performance, I don't think I'd buy a ticket.

It's a great story, of course. Classic. Deep. Timeless. This was centuries before modern liberal scientists jettisoned their principles and took jobs with the Pentagon, or Kurt Cobain signed a record deal with a major label. The deep metaphorical significance of selling one's soul still resonates today. But Marlowe didn't invent the story any more than Shakespeare invented his. Both of them were adept at taking what were already classic tales back in the 16th century, and giving them a modern retelling. And once Shakespeare retold a tale, nobody ever had the chutzpah to try to tell it again, even in German. But get that Marlowe defender in a room with a Goethe scholar, and then subtly raise the question of who best told the Faust tale. Oooh, there's gonna be a fight. Excellent. This is more fun than putting incompatible insects in a jar.

So, for the record, in my own ever-humble opinion, for what it's worth, just speaking for myself here: I thought this was very good, but not sublimely magnificent. That's my position and I'm sticking to it. You might disagree. I have a full bottle of whiskey, which I'm willing to share. Want to fight about it?