Reviews of "Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World, Vol. 2"


Here are reviews received for "Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World, Vol 2. 

(Of course, it is also combined with their review of Vol I.)

Reviews also include those from academic journals. 

 I believe in sharing the good, the bad and the ugly, as the reader should see all, so all reviews I find are here! 



Reviews Received:

Reviewed by Michael Feld - Five Stars

    Faust: My Soul Be Damned For The World, Volume II by E.A. Bucchianeri continues the same exacting historical research and investigation into both the life of Goethe and his finest work, Faust that began in Volume I.

    As amply displayed in Volume I, Bucchianeri masterfully recounts significant historical, political, religious, and economic events that shaped Goethe’s intellectual and artistic development through the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Bucchianeri leads the reader into Goethe’s remarkable life. From an unfulfilling legal practice, to a duty bound series of political and artistic appointments to the Duchy of Weimar, the reader will understand how Goethe’s long and varied career defined much of the development of Faust. Of particular interest to the reader will be Bucchianeri’s exceptionally detailed and fascinating information on major factors such as Alchemy and Freemasonry and their influence on Goethe and subsequently all his literary works.

    Faust: My Soul Be Damned For The World, Volume II begins with Goethe’s early life, dominated by a stern and demanding father. His father, who desires his son become a lawyer, stymies young Goethe’s poetic and literary inclinations. Bucchianeri then chronicles Goethe’s university years. As a student, and indeed throughout his long life, Goethe is obsessed with learning and is drawn to many differing disciplines. Goethe’s love of knowledge, and the price paid for its acquisition is clearly mirrored in the character of Faust.

    As is the case with Volume I, Faust: My Soul Be Damned For The World, Volume II is not an easy read but the effort will be well rewarded. The reader will understand how the historical context of his day profoundly affects the work of an artist. Within the pages of Goethe’s Faust, Bucchianeri will enable the reader to gain a deeper understanding not only of the literary and aesthetic value of the work, but a clearer insight to a remarkable stage in western European history.

    Quill says: Here indeed, is an author capable of fusing aesthetic and literary analysis with a solid recount of history.

Reviewed by Jeff Farrows, Ed (April 26, 2010)

When I received Vol. 1 of E. A. Bucchianeri's FAUST, I was completely intimidated, as reflected in my review of it. It was obviously a high level academic & extensive treatment of the subject & frankly my time is very limited these days. Well anyway, I agreed to read it, and by god I was going to read it. It took 6 weeks. All I could find to criticize about Vol. 1 was the fact that it didn't have a subject index. Such an index would be invaluable to people like me who research & cross reference a variety of subjects. Be that as it may, I found the material fascinating.

The same precision to detail & skill of presentation applies to Vol. 2--and it zeros in on subjects that I & Parallel Perspectives I-mag readers are most interested in; that is, Gnosis, Freemasonry, Knights Templar, Illuminati & Secret Societies, Allegorical Numerology, legendary occult persons like the sinister character known as Cagliostro, sacred geometery, and perhaps most importantly, The Great Work. What I find fascinating about Bucchianeri's tome is that it is a Magnus Opus about another Magnus Opus (Goethe's FAUST) about The Great Work (Faust's.)

I've made attempts to explain what The Great Work is in previous reviews (see product insert links below.) Briefly, The Great Work represents a metaphysical process in which the individual (Microcosm) unites with Divinity (Macrocosm.) Most people know this as Magnus Opus, usually as applied to a secular discipline such as writing, music, art & other subjects of deep value. The character Faust's version of The Great Work is strictly materialistic & downright evil--but The Great Work nonetheless (see The Ninth Gate below.)

Another aspect I appreciated in FAUST is the character study of Goethe. In school I got a smattering of knowledge regarding the great man, but nothing on a level like this. Not only was he obviously an artistic genius, but his life was as well rounded & fulfilled as it could be. He was not an isolated genius, but one who valued and cultivated positive relationships. He served government & society and was a highly esteemed associate. In so many ways Goethe was a lightening rod of his times & a true visionary.
As mentioned above, FAUST analyzes at length many of the metaphysical, religious & political concepts that remain of interest to a wide spectrum of people.  If they're willing to summon up (no pun intended) the attention span required, they will find FAUST an invaluable guide to get to the center of these ideas.
The gist of this is that enjoyed reading Vol. 2 as much as any potboiler; educational, of course, but a lot of fun too.

Index or no index, Vol. 2 gets an unequivocal 5 BIG STARS.

Reviewed by Rebecca Schiller  - Four Stars
     With its blood-red title and gothic print of the elderly Faust leafing through a heavy tome of incantations, the cover of Faust: My Soul Be Damned for the World may be off-putting to some; but readers shouldn’t judge this book by its cover.
    In the second volume of E.A. Bucchianeri’s Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World, a staggering and comprehensive exploration of both Goethe and Dr. Faust, readers are introduced to the poet and his massive masterpiece, Faust. In a one-page introduction, readers learn that Goethe started the first draft of his opus in his early twenties and finished it eight months before his death at the age of eighty-two.
    The creation of Faust spanned several ages, from the Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) movement, through Weimar Classicism, and into the beginnings of the Romantic era. These periods of literary, historical, and social change heavily influenced Goethe’s writing. Yet other factors also played an important role in the evolution of Faust, including Goethe’s diverse studies in the disciplines of art, music, alchemy, the occult, law, politics, the physical and natural sciences, and others. And like with all writers, Goethe’s personal life provided inspiration for the character of Dr. Faustus and the first-time inclusion of a love interest—Margareta.
    Part biography of the poet and part literary analysis of his work, Bucchianeri’s research is exhaustive and includes several amusing, yet trivial, anecdotes of how as a student at the University in Leipzig, Goethe transformed himself from Franconian country bumpkin to fashionista fop with the accompanying mannerisms. However, the core of Bucchianeri’s study lies in the deep scrutiny of Faust, detailing Goethe’s hidden symbolism and prophecies of the future within the work itself.
    Throughout the text, Bucchianeri cites several references and footnotes them. These include the poet’s own autobiography and "The Life of Goethe" by the German literary critic Albert Bielshowky. At the end of the book a select chronology is provided, yet academics, researchers, and librarians will fault the author for not including an index or the bibliography, which is only found in volume one.   In addition, some readers might be perplexed by the absence of Bucchianeri’s credentials. However, no one can dispute that Bucchianeri is passionate about the subject. Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World is a very welcome addition to both public and personal libraries.

Modern Language Review  (Vol. 105, No. 2, April 1, 2010: pp.589-590)

(Modern Humanities Research Association)

Reviewed by Dr. Osman Durrani, University of Kent

A combined total of 1,136 pages in two large-format volumes is sure to provide enterprising readers with a lavish diet of documentary matter, commentary, and conjecture on the Faust tradition from its medieval origins to the ‘almost  unapproachable zenith’ which it attained in the year of Goethe’s demise (II, 665).  The first, somewhat thinner, volume is devoted to the chapbook, its sources and influence, the second to Goethe’s life and work. In dealing with the origins, the author assumes that the historical Faustus is identical with the individual who matriculated as Georg Helmstetter at Heidelberg University on 9 January 1483 and graduated one year and seven months thereaafter. Helmstetter’s putative peregrinations are then detailed over some 100 pages and summarized in a tabulated curriculum extending from his birth ‘evidently in Helmstadt near Heidelberg’ in 1466 or 1467, to his death in Staufen ‘near present day Stuttgart’ in or around 1538 (I, 100-03).
Turning to the chapbook, Bucchianeri investigates each controversial incident in turn, drawing parallels with historical figures, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Arthurian and other late medieval legends, and citing sources which range from the Bible to Copernican astronomy. An impressively detailed account of the Wolfenbüttel manuscript is vitiated by switching from ‘Wolfenbüttel’ to ‘Wolfenbüttle’ and back again, and it soon becomes clear that the author’s knowledge of German language and geography is limited, which leads to some curious misapprehensions: Lessing’s 17th epistle is described as ‘the seventeenth edition of the Literaturbrief’ (I, 389).This may also explain why more space is devoted to the London Faustbook of 1593 than to the original Frankfurt edition of 1587.
The distinctive quality of Bucchianeri’s commentary lies in tireless contextualization, with each incident in Faust’s career related to specific historical events, cultural phenomena, or to background circumstances; thus, Faust’s mockery of the Ottoman Sultan is accompanied by a history of Turkish expansion from the fall of Constantinople to the Battle of Lepanto (I, 158). In volume II key stages of Goethe’s career are graphically recounted with the help of over two thousand footnotes, very few of which address controversies of the kind that enliven recent criticism by the likes of Richard Friedenthal, Karl Otto Conrady, and Nicholas Boyle. Instead, it is Albert Bielschowsky’s biography of 1895–1903, accessed via a recent English language reprint, that proves to be the author’s preferred source of information.  Yet there is no denying the near-boundless enthusiasm with which Bucchianeri approaches even the most recondite passages of Faust II. Here, an interpretation is offered that has Goethe take issue with the Freemasons, Illuminati, Templars, and Carbonari, while celebrating, in the final scene, the eventual triumph of the Roman Church. It is suggested that Lessing’s play would have taken a similarly unpopular approach, which may explain why his manuscript mysteriously disappeared en route to its publishers (II, 663). There are shades of conspiratorial fiction in these bold assertions, and it is therefore conceivable that fans of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code will appreciate aspects of this study.  The less pedantic among them may be inclined to overlook such blemishes as the inconsistent spelling of foreign-language terms and proper names, excessive use of exclamation marks, and idiosyncratic punctuation. We get ‘Beamarchais’ (II, 678), ‘Boiserée’ (II, 596), ‘Wetzslar’ (II, 677), and even ‘Wittenburg’ as an occasional variant of ‘ Wittenberg ’ (I, 163, 388). Inconsistencies will be found in the same section or paragraph, sometimes even in the same sentence, when we read ‘Fehlaer’ beside ‘Fehler’ (II, 391), ‘Knebel’ alongside ‘Kneble’ (II, 679), ‘Sesenheim’ beside ‘Sesensheim’ (II, 61, 62), and ‘Nuremburg’ beside ‘Nürnberg’ (I, 101).  Striking disfigurements of German titles include ‘Legensbegsch des Herrn Götz von Berlichingen’ and ‘Frankfurter Gelehrten Anzeigenin’ (II, 74,75).
            A compact bibliography of English-language criticism is located only in volume I (I, 426-434). Neither volume comes with an index.

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber  - Four Stars
(Also includes a review of Vol. I)

    The fascinating story about Dr. Faust is thick, deep, involved, and embedded with layers of editorial narratives by various compilers throughout the centuries of its formation. This is the case made by E.A. Bucchianeri in the 2-volume scholarly work, “Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World.” The author has written a heavily footnoted, pedagogic work of over 1100 pages, which is a self-contained historical, psychological, literary library.

     The first volume of “Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World” unravels the mythical from the (likely) historical person of Johannes Faustus. The writer then moves through several works from the 16th and 17th century of the Faustian legend, exposing the multifaceted layers of editorial expansions, moralizations, and propagandizing. This includes the Wolfenbuttel manuscript, the Orwin Edition of the English Faustbook, and the work of Christopher Marlowe.

     The second, and far larger, volume of “Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World” covers the work of the one author who immortalized Faust for the world: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The author tangles with the formation of Goethe’s life and temperament, moving from his early background, through his university experience, to involvement with Freemasonry and the occult, on to the final chapters of his life. Bucchianeri reveals a full grasp of the life of Goethe, and how all the pieces of his life fed into the completion of his masterpiece.

     On occasion Bucchianeri shows a strident Roman Catholic edge, especially when describing Marlowe’s environment, where the writer waxes a bit harsh in anti-Protestant, anti-Lutheran, and anti-Calvinistic rhetoric. But if the person reading these tomes can get past that, they will find a vast resource of information and insight. Historians, occultists, Faust-lovers, and academics will draw great pleasure from the citations, observations, and applications in “Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World.”

     The reader will quickly recognize that “Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World, Volume I and Volume II” by E.A. Bucchianeri is not a simple, easy work. It is meant to be a serious approach to the study of the Faustian legend, and one who picks up these volumes must be prepared to invest time and cerebral energies to successfully complete the material. But the labor will be well worth it.

(Indiana University Press) 
Reviewed by K. A. Laity, The College of Saint Rose  (March 9, 2010)
(Also includes a combined review of Volume I)

The advent of digital publishing has made it possible for authors to self-publish works that no publisher would find economically feasible. Bucchianeri's massive two-volume study of Faust analogues and sources would be an unlikely choice for any mainstream publisher, overstuffed as it is by examples, tangents, and obsessive detail. This exhaustive compendium will nonetheless be a useful handbook for those interested in the Faustus legend to consult, aiming at comprehensiveness rather than comprehension. It is tempting to see the author engaged in a pursuit nearly as obsessive as the legendary fictional character, surrounded by his notebooks and occult objects, muttering to himself as he conjures this eventual tome.

Like all fanatical endeavors, the focus is sharp yet not always on the things that the rest of us would like to see. From the start, this aspect of the study becomes clear. Bucchianeri begins with the overlong sentence, "Faust, the notorious reprobate who willingly forfeited his immortal soul to the devil in exchange for the fleeting illusory pleasures of the world as depicted and recounted in the famous works of art, literature, drama and music, did not originate as the imaginary brainchild of a literary genius" (9). While I immediately assumed he referred to Marlowe, I'm sure just as many will assume he refers to Goethe (a quick glance at the table of contents will make clear that it is the latter). Having his head down over the Faustian materials with a microscope, Bucchianeri assumes the reader to be right beside him, too, seeing what he sees and thinking what he thinks. Rarely will this be the case. Most handbooks of this type acknowledge this difference by preparing the materials for easy access at any point of reference. For the casual reader—assuming such a thing might exist—this kind of rhetorical guidance is almost completely lacking.

The language of the study, likewise, does little to captivate the reader. As a compendium of useful facts, there's not likely to be a replacement any time soon. Bucchianeri pursues every avenue of Faustian analogue with a dogged persistence that would win accolades from Ahab. The bulk of the second volume is dedicated to a minute examination of the composition and text of Goethe's work, ending with an annotated chronology of his life. Clearly it is this text that drives Bucchianeri's compulsion. His final words on the subject cement this impression. After declaring the drama to be the indisputable "zenith" of Faustian legends, he goes on to tell us what this means:

“Although many failed to appreciate, or indeed, to understand this magnum opus in its entirety, from this point onward his drama was the rule by which all other Faust adaptations were measured. Goethe had eclipsed the earlier legends and became the undisputed authority on the subject of Faust in the eyes of the new Romantic generation. To deviate from his path would be nothing short of blasphemy” (665).

Here the fanatical gleam in the eye shines brightest. While doubtless many would argue that the importance of Goethe's drama would come first among all others, there are plenty who would argue that the narrative focus and mordant humor of Marlowe's vision has never been surpassed. Few scholars on either side would argue it quite so ardently. Both dramas have proved influential, certainly.

This single-mindedness will doubtless spark some controversy. Bucchianeri puts so much weight on the Masonic controversies that one gets the impression of a sort of Da Vinci Code mystery with the poet running in fear of his life from the fellow Masons who would silence his pen even if it cost the nation their favorite writer. While there may be more menace in attacks on Goethe than simply literary scolding, one need not invoke Occam to persuade that it is hardly convincing to argue for murderous plots on the basis that "this answer is too simplistic" (664).

While Bucchianeri occasionally gives in to a somewhat heated rhetoric based on somewhat dubious interpolations, there remains much in the set to celebrate. Bucchianeri's unceasing search for source materials brings together in one place the many texts that build the Faust legend from the late Middle Ages onward, including tables of contents for various iterations of the legend and a timeline of the twenty-eight major documents from the first possible candidates for the role model as the legend develops from a troublesome scholar conjuring for nobility and inflicting demons upon his detractors, to the eventual template of the man who sold his soul to the devil. Faust fans will enjoy the coverage of the puppet plays and of Lessing's lost play. While scholars will probably continue to consult more authoritative German texts, the English-speaking fan will find entertainment in the pages of this collection, though he would do well to read with a skeptical eye.


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