Appeared in Spring/Summer 1996, Vol. XXII, Nos. 1.2

Goethe’s Faust Is traditionally seen as a paean to and the epitome of German Idealism. According to this reading, Faust is the archetypal modern Western man who, by dint of his ceaseless striving, creates himself and his world by an act of sheer will, thereby attaining the highest goal of mankind, realizing the purpose or end of all human activity, which is seen as the self- achievement of individual perfection, the cultivation to an ultimate degree of all one’s latent potential. Thus faust becomes an absolute, so it is said, whose will is sovereign-a law unto himself, a modern prometheus.l

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