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Faust by Sandeep Parmar PRE-ORDER
PBS Autumn Choice 2022

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Published 15th September 2022. Available for Pre-Order.

Goethe’s version of the scholar’s fateful wager with Mephistopheles inspires the central sequence of Faust, mapped onto the figure of the migrant who flees a postcolonial legacy of fire, displacement and climate destruction for a life of eternal striving. As Parmar asks in ‘The Winnowing Shovel’: ‘How is striving itself, as an idea built into literary models and real-life stereotypes of the good immigrant or the model minority, how might striving—in the Faustian sense—provide a way of thinking about heroism, tragedy (modern and ancient) and migratory grief? Who chooses to leave and why, who attempts to return, who stays on, who, to borrow from Bhanu Kapil’s image of reverse migration, is made psychotic in a national space, who is this hero who journeys, who strives and for what? To be visible or invisible? As others have looked to the Faust legend for ways to explore the insatiability of man’s appetites, the questions I put to Goethe’s version specifically bring together three strands: striving as a fear of and countermeasure against mortality; a critique of globalisation and technology; and the female element underlying male aggression, destruction and desire.’ From Goethe to Elizabeth Bishop, Vivien Eliot to Winckelmann, Homer and Marilyn Monroe—Faust’s poems meditate on the accruement of loss and of the impossibility of home.

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