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Prof. Steven Walker: Making Faust Come Out Right


Prof. Steven F. Walker
Rutgers The State University of New Jersey, USA

"Making Faust Come Out Right - Kurosawa's Ikiru and Nabokov's Lolita in the postwar scene"


12. Juni 2007


Gastvortrag in Kooperation mit Prof. Dr. Georg Witte (Peter-Szondi-Institut für Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft, FB Philosophie und Geisteswissenschaften, Freie Universität Berlin).

Thomas Mann's novel DOKTOR FAUSTUS was discussed widely after its publication in 1947, but two other major postwar works failed to gain recognition as significant attempts to transform and redeem some of the disturbing aspects of Faustian amorality. One of them, Akira Kurosawa's film IKIRU (1952), in spite of obvious references to Goethe's Faust, still needs more discussion concerning its transformation of Faustian themes. The other, Vladimir Nabokov's novel LOLITA (1955) created quite a stir, but not because anyone recognized in Humbert Humbert's confession of his abusive relationship with Lolita a revisioning of Goethe's Faust I in terms of greater empowerment for the girl (Lolita/Gretchen), and a final moral self-condemnation for the seducer (Faust/Humbert Humbert). Both works, but in radically opposing ways, make FAUST “come out right" in the wake of the moral catastrophe of World War II, and bring the Faust myth out of the realm of amoral self-assertion into the realm of individual and social moral responsibility.


Zur Person:

Steven F. Walker is Professor of Comparative Literature at Rutgers University (USA). He got his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Harvard. Some of his recent publications include the book Jung and the Jungians on Myth (New York: Garland, 1995) and the articles "The Invention of Theater: Recontextualizing the Vexing Question" and "The Name of the Madeleine: Signs and Symbols of the Mass in Proust's In Search of Lost Time."