Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Figure of Faust in Valery and Goethe: An Exegesis of "Mon Faust"

Figure of Faust in Valery and Goethe: An Exegesis of "Mon Faust"

Kurt Weinberg
Copyright Date: 1976
Pages: 280
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Figure of Faust in Valery and Goethe: An Exegesis of "Mon Faust"
    Book Description:

    This book interpretsMon Faustand explores the differences between Valéry's and Goethe's treatments of the Faust figure. The author shows by close analysis how Valéry opposes a Cartesian, anti-Pascalian Faust to Goethe's romantically flawed hero. The title of the project conceived by Valéry's Faust,The Mind's Body-part autobiography, part metaphysical treatise-embodies the Cartesian dilemma ironically illustrated by theMon Faustfragments: the misfortunes of the thinking essence, thecogito, in its subjugation to the body.

    The first three chapters examine the Cartesian character of a Faust engaged in superhuman but vain attempts to reconcile the intellect and the libido. A fourth chapter discusses the differences between Goethe's and Valéry's protagonists and as well between Goethe and his Faust. Throughout the book the author explores Valéry's linguistic experimentation, which, through charades, paranomasia, onomastics, and etymological puns, brings into full play the mystifying and mythologizing aspects of language. To resolve the stylistic problems associated with this fragmentary work the author adapts the tone of his exegesis to the diverse stylistic levels ofMon Faust. His analysis illuminates the Cartesian potential inherent in Valéry's protagonist.

    Originally published in 1976.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7168-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-2)
    (pp. 3-38)

    Valéry’s ideas on the drama parallel his thoughts on the novel. They matured in his early twenties, between 1891 and 1894, half a century beforeMon Faust, under the impact of works as diverse as Huysmans’A Rebours, Mallarmé’s HérodiadeandIgiturfragments, and Poe’sThe Fall of the House of Usher.They reject the complementary concepts of the stage as a world and the world as a stage, and they condemn narrative fiction on the order of “La marquise sortit à cinq heures.” For Valéry, the only stage for drama and novel is the abstract theatre of the human...

    (pp. 39-93)

    After the monstrously cerebral Monsieur Teste, after Valéry’s methodical Leonardo, and his Narcissus, who is curious only about his own essence (cf. P.I, 128), Faust represents a last attempt by the author to portray “ce que serait un Descartes qui naîtrait de notre époque” (P.I, 826). His Cartesian version of Faust would be possessed by the same Nietzschean “will to power” that Valéry attributes to Descartes (P.I, 807). Like Valéry’s Descartes, he would be intent upon showing and demonstrating “ce que peut un Moi” (P.I, 808). He would, to put it in Descartes’ own terms, “chercher la vraie méthode pour...

  7. Three. LES FÉES
    (pp. 94-151)

    Consistent with the Baroque origins and Stoic training of his historical model, Valéry’s Faust had correctly diagnosed the Solitaire’s behavior as symptomatic of a mental disease. In the language of the Stoics, the Solitaire would indeed be considered mad. He is possessed by uncontrolled passions that have overwhelmed a mind refusing (in Cartesian terms) its total union with the body’s carnal functions, so necessary for its sanity. The Solitaire’s uncontrolled passions, stripped of their Pascalian disguise as “thought,” reach their climax when they triumph over Faust, the impassive and amused embodiment of the “rational soul,” precipitating him into the abyss....

    (pp. 152-246)

    The moment has come to compare Valéry's Faust with his primary model, the protagonist of Goethe’s “tragedy”—a tragedy in name only, it would seem, since the hero in the end is saved by Angelic intervention. It is a tragedy all the same, in purely human terms, since it illuminates Faust’s impotence vis-à-vis the human condition that he is forever unable to transcend, and it brings into sharp focus the ironies of self-deception that accompany all human self-perception: the discrepencies between lofty ideals and their inevitable perversion through the insufficiencies of human knowledge and human means applied to their realization....

  9. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 247-250)
  10. Index
    (pp. 251-256)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 257-258)