The Back of the Book: This new edition of the A text of Doctor Faustus follows the format of our New Longman Shakespeare series. It has been specifically developed to help students make the transition to AS and A Level a smooth one.
The complete text is accompanied by:
- close textual analysis alongside the text, which helps students to understand difficult words, historical references and key imagery.
- general notes opposite the text, which develop student understanding of the play and cover themes, character, plot, language and different actors’ interpretations.
- AS and A2 exam and coursework questions at the end of each act, in addition to activities to help students explore the play as a piece of theatre.
- information on sources, performance history and the social, historical and literary context.
- a selection of extracts from key critical works to build understanding of different critical interpretations.
- a section to help develop the study skills required for AS and A Level.
NotJustLaura’s Review: I first read this play as a student at Dundee University. At the time, hating Shakespearian language, I was just glad to get through it. I may have gone to a tutorial and it’s quite possible that I wrote an essay although I don’t remember having done so. This time around, reading for AA100, with A177 already under my belt, I’m glad to report that I got a lot more from the experience.
The Longman edition is aimed at A Level students. The text is broken into bite-sized sections each of which is presented with a little summary such as:
The deed specifies that Faustus may be a spirit and that Mephistopheles will be at his command. In return, Lucifer is allowed to carry Faustus off, body and soul, at the end of twenty-four years. (p38)
This made the play a whole lot easier to read and understand. There is a line-by-line explanation of the text (which I’ve dipped in and out of as I read), a relevant photograph and an ‘Ideas and interpretations’ section which, I confess, I haven’t read yet.
The play itself is a dark tale concerning a man (Faustus) who sells his soul to the devil. It could be read as a tragedy or a morality play – I lean over to the morality side although one could hardly argue that it is not tragic!
Although, the first time around, I identified the language as Shakespearian (the play is Elizabethan) it is actually very different and Marlowe utilises his own style. I think the main difference between the two playwrights is their use of imagery. Shakespearian texts seem a lot more ‘flowery’ with one metaphor overlaying another. Marlowe seems a lot more likely to call a spade a spade and leave it at that. For me, this made Doctor Faustus an easier but less satisfying read.