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(1936-1941) Facsimile of color silkscreen poster for Federal Theatre Project presentation of "Faustus" by Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) at the Maxine Elliott Theatre, 109 West 39th Street, New York City. The early Faust chapbook, while already in circulation in Northern Germany, found its way to England, where in 1592 an English translation was published, The Historie of the Damnable Life, and Deserved Death of Doctor Iohn Faustus credited to a certain "P. F., Gent[leman]". Christopher Marlowe used this work as the basis for his more ambitious play, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (published c. 1604). Marlowe also borrowed from John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, on the exchanges between Pope Adrian and a rival pope. Another possible inspiration of Marlowe's version is John Dee (1527–1609), who practised forms of alchemy and science and developed Enochian magic. Faust or Faustus (Latin for "auspicious" or "lucky", but also German for "fist") is the protagonist of a classic German legend who makes a pact with the Devil in exchange for knowledge. Faust's tale is the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical works. The meaning of the word and name has been reinterpreted through the ages. "Faust" (and the adjective "Faustian") has taken on a connotation distinct from its original use, and is often used today to describe an unsavory, ultimately self-destructive arrangement; the proverbial "deal with the devil". It can also refer to an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
The Faust of early books—as well as the ballads, dramas and puppet-plays which grew out of them—is irrevocably damned because he prefers human to divine knowledge; "he laid the Holy Scriptures behind the door and under the bench, refused to be called doctor of Theology, but preferred to be styled doctor of Medicine."
Plays and comic puppet theatre loosely based on this legend were popular throughout Germany in the 16th century, often reducing Faust to a figure of vulgar fun. The story was popularized in England by Christopher Marlowe, who gave it a classic treatment in his play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. In Goethe's reworking of the story 200 years later, Faust becomes a dissatisfied intellectual who yearns for "more than earthly meat and drink." The Federal Theatre Project (FTP) was a New Deal project to fund theatre and other live artistic performances in the United States during the Great Depression. It was one of five Federal One projects sponsored by the Works Projects Administration (WPA). The FTP's primary goal was employment of out-of-work artists, writers, and directors, with the secondary aim of entertaining poor families and creating relevant art. Christopher Marlowe (c. 26 February 1564 – 30 May 1593) was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. The foremost Elizabethan tragedian next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his mysterious death.
A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May 1593. No reason for it was given, though it was thought to be connected to allegations of blasphemy—a manuscript believed to have been written by Marlowe was said to contain "vile heretical conceipts." He was brought before the Privy Council for questioning on 20 May, after which he had to report to them daily. Ten days later, he was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer. Whether the stabbing was connected to his arrest has never been resolved. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, normally known simply as Doctor Faustus, is a play by Christopher Marlowe, based on the Faust story, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge. Doctor Faustus was first published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe's death and at least twelve years after the first performance of the play.
"No Elizabethan play outside the Shakespeare canon has raised more controversy than Doctor Faustus. There is no agreement concerning the nature of the text and the date of composition... and the centrality of the Faust legend in the history of the Western world precludes any definitive agreement on the interpretation of the play..." Description Source Wikipedia