The Restless Spirit: A Scene by Scene Study of Goethe’s Faust by A. S. Kline with selected illustrations by William Blake.
The Restless Spirit is a scene by scene commentary on, and a detailed analysis of, Goethe’s Faust Parts I and II, which considers the Romantic background of Part I, the move towards Classicism in Part II, and the moral and spiritual issues which Goethe raises throughout the work. In grappling with the complexity of the emerging Romantic Movement with its restless intellectual urge, and later in attempting a resolution of the Romantic situation, Goethe was handling many of the deepest problems of his age, and it is not surprising that he was forced to leave many issues unresolved. The reader who wishes to progress beyond a simple contemplation of the tragedy of Gretchen in Part I is presented here with a detailed discussion of Faust’s Romantic beginnings and later progress towards potential fulfilment, through his intricate pact with Mephistopheles and its dramatic outcome. While encouraging a positive view of the richness, poetic validity and complex treatment Goethe provides, this analysis does not shirk the more problematic moral, spiritual and social aspects of Goethe’s treatment of the subject, and leaves the reader to make his or her own judgement as to the success with which Goethe justifies Faust’s ultimate ‘redemption’.
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