A Brief Timeline of Faust

A Brief Timeline of Faust

The story of Faust is a product of, and a commentary on its times and so is our interpretation of it a product of, and a commentary on our own time. A society subject to God is replaced by one which hopes to prosper despite God. Faust’s ambitions are first a threat to God, then they become what ultimately frees us from God.

1440Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press. Rise of literacy.
1453Revival of Greek learning (fall of Constantinople). Renaissance.
1480The historical Georg Faust is believed to have been born in 1480 in Knittlingen.
1483-1487Georg Helmstetter enrolled at Heidelberg University and got his Master’s Degree in philosophy in 1487. He practiced astrology and alchemy.
1517Martin Luther begins the Protestant Reformation in Wittenberg.
1540The historical Faust is said to have died.
1543Copernicus shows that Earth is not the centre of God’s Universe (‘beginning of the scientific revolution’).
1575The Wolfenbüttel manuscript version of Faust.
1584Giordano Bruno further discredits the Christian doctrine of the heavens (he is executed in 1600).
1587The chapbook Historia von Johann D. Fausten published in Frankfurt am Main by Johann Spies.
1588(1587-1592?) Likely printing of the chapbook’s English translation, The Historie of the damnable life, and deserved death of Doctor John Faustus by ‘P.F.’
1588-1592Christopher Marlowe’s drama “Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus.”
1650(1650s to 1780s) Age of Enlightenment/Age of Reason. Decline of superstition.
1687Newton’s Principia – ‘the close of the beginning of the scientific revolution.’
1790The first publication of a version of Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s Faust.
1808Goethe published Faust. Eine Tragödie.
1832Goethe’s Faust II published shortly after his death in that year.

After almost a century of steady decline…

“After almost a century of steady decline, the years from 1780 onwards witnessed the faint beginnings of a revival of astrology, for reasons which are not easy to explain. Was this revival connected in some way with Romanticism, with the cult of nature or of the past? The evidence is very slight; Goethe is probably the only serious European writer of this period to mention astrology, giving some details of his own horoscope in the course of his autobiography, yet it plays no part in his dramas, even where we might expect it, in Faust. “

P 191. Astrology: a history. By Peter Whitfield. Abrams, 2001