Faustbook: A Narrative Poem in the Manner of Five Acts
This narrative poem in the manner of a five-act play (with excursus) was inspired by research I had done for teaching Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. I read it first when I was fourteen, finding in particular the count-down to death at midnight, like an execution, terrifying and poignant. His play incomplete, his fallen philosopher also unfinished, tantalized me then, and had recurred for my imagination in my maturity.
The poem therefore has an adolescent attitude, but it is an old man’s ideas.
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Advisory: students of the Faustian legends will recognize the authentic elements of its tradition: that it affronts Catholic Christianity with mawkish slander; that Faustus doubts his religion; that Mephistophiles is a sensualist; that evil and good struggle and often evil prevails; that conscience contends and is confused. These are the original themes. Offense is not intended. Neither is the tale censored.