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Silver, D. (1984). Friederike Brion and the Origins of Faust. Psychoanal. Inq., 4(4):613-625.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 4(4):613-625

Friederike Brion and the Origins of Faust

Donald Silver, M.D.

Among topics of continuing interest to Goethe scholars, the complicated chronology of the writing of Faust occupies a special place. We know that the poet first set down Faust in rough outline form in the winter of 1771-1772 when he was 22-23 years old. Although he modified it slightly before moving to Weimar in 1775, he did not seriously pursue the project further until his return from Italy in 1790. It was at this time that he converted the play from prose to poetry and published Part I without the epilogue. The Goethe who published Part I of Faust in 1790 at the age of 40 was far from the brash youth who had set down his ideas about Faust in the original manuscript of 1771. During this crucial 20-year period Goethe had lost his beloved sister, Cornelia; he had established an intense relationship with Frau Charlotte von Stein, a married woman seven years older than he was and evidently an object of platonic love. By 1790, moreover, he had taken a mistress while traveling in Italy and presumably achieved potency, for he returned from the prolonged holiday a changed man. It was shortly thereafter that he began the affair with Christiane that culminated in his marriage to her in 1806.

I am concerned here with the young Goethe and the circumstances leading to his writing of the Urfaust.

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