The major work of German literature, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust (1808), was translated into English by one of Britain's most capable mediators of German literature and philosophy, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Goethe himself twice referred to Coleridge's translation of his Faust. Goethe's character wrestles with the very metaphysical and theological problems that preoccupied Coleridge: the meaning of the Logos, the apparent opposition of theism and pantheism. Coleridge, the poet of tormented guilt, of the demonic and the supernatural, found himself on familiar ground in translating Faust. Because his translation reveals revisions and reworkings of Coleridge's earlier works, his Faust contributes significantly to the understanding of Coleridge's entire oeuvre.
Coleridge began, but soon abandoned, the translation in 1814, returning to the task in 1820. At Coleridge's own insistence, it was published anonymously in 1821, illustrated with 27 line engravings copied by Henry Moses after the original plates by Moritz Retzsch. His publisher, Thomas Boosey, brought out another edition in 1824. Although several critics recognized that it was Coleridge's work, his role as translator was obscured because of its anonymous publication. Coleridge himself declared that he "never put pen to paper as translator of Faust," and subsequent generations mistakenly attributed the translation to George Soane, a minor playwright, who had actually commenced translating for a rival press.
This edition of Coleridge's translation provides the textual and documentary evidence of his authorship, and presents his work in the context of other contemporary efforts at translating Goethe's Faust.
a work of great scholarship which promises to reconfigure our understanding not only of the life and works of a major English writer, but of that writer's complex role in European cultural commerce... the recovery of Coleridge's time-concealed masterpiece promises to trigger a ripple of realignments right across both English and European Romanticism. Kelly Grovier, Times Literary Supplement
1: The Faustus of Goethe, translated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (London: Boosey, 1821). With the 27 illustrations by Moritz Retzsch, re-engraved by Henry Moses.
2: Germaine de Staël, Germany [= de l'Allemagne, 1809], translated by Francis Hodgson, edited by William Lamb (London: John Murray, 1813). Part II 'On Literature and the Arts', Ch. 23, 'Faustus', pp. 181-226.
3: Extracts from Göthe's Tragedy of Faustus, explanatory of the plates by Retsch, translated by George Soane (London: Bohte, 1820). [January 1820] Page proofs for Bohte's planned second edition, translated by George Soane. [Sent to London Magazine, Nov 1821; to Goethe June 1822]
4: Retsch's Series of Twenty-six Outlines Illustrative of Goethe's Tragedy of Faust, translated by Daniel Boileau (London: Boosey, 1820). [June 1820], with Boileau's notes to Abraham Hayward's prose translation.
5: 'The Faustus of Goethe', translated by John Anster, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, vol. 7. no. 39 (June 1820), 235-258.
6: Faust: a Drama by Goethe; and, Schiller's Song of the Bell, translated by Lord Francis Leveson Gower. (London: John Murray, 1823). [corresponding text only]
Stylometric Analysis of the Faust Translations,
Number Of Pages: 360
Published: 1st August 2007
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.1 x 16.3
Weight (kg): 0.83