The German Faustian Century; Antiauthoritarianism and the Problem of Knowledge in the Faustbuch

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The Reformation and Renaissance, though segregated into distinct disciplines today, interacted and clashed intimately in Faust, the great figure that attained European prominence in the anonymous 1587 Historia von D. Johann Fausten. The original Faust behind Goethe's great drama embodies a remote culture. In his century, Faust evolved from an obscure cipher to a universal symbol. The age explored here as "the Faustian century" invested the Faustbuch and its theme with a symbolic significance still of exceptional relevance today.
The new essays in this volume complement one another, providing insights into the tensions and forces that gave the century its distinctcharacter. Several essays seek Faust's prototypes. Others elaborate the symbolic function of his figure and discern the resonance of his tale in conflicting allegiances. This volume focuses on the intersection of historical accounts and literary imaginings, on shared aspects of the work and its times, on concerns with obedience and transgression, obsessions with the devil and curiosity about magic, and quandaries created by shifting religious and worldlyauthorities.


This book was originally published as The Faustian Century: Literature and Culture in the Age of Luther and Dr. Faustus, ed. with J. van der Laan, with two contributions by Weeks. Rochester: Camden House, 2013 (399 pages). Andrew Weeks, “The German Faustian Century,” pp. 16-40; “Antiauthoritarianism and the Problem of Knowledge in the Faustbuch,” pp. 215-239.