If anyone is planning a trip to Oxford later this month, there is still time to see a couple of the events that are part of the Oxford Faust Festival. The story of the scholar who sells his soul to the devil Mephistopheles in exchange for secret knowledge had an important influence on many gothic writers. The world-famous Blackwell’s bookshop is the stage for The Creation Theatre company’s production of Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, with the demon Mephistopheles wandering among the bookshelves (www.creationtheatre.co.uk, tickets until Saturday 26th March).
(Ford Maddox-Brown, Manfred on the Jungfrau Mountain, 1842. Manchester City Art Galleries)
On Sunday 27th March at 3.00p.m., in the suitably Gothic surrounding of New College Chapel, there will be a reading by professional actors of Byron’s dramatic poem, Manfred (1816). Byron’s poem was strongly influenced by the German poet and philosopher Goethe, who wrote the first part of his dramatic version of the Faust legend in 1808. At Villa Diodati in 1816, Matthew Lewis translated the play aloud to Byron, the Shelleys and Polidori.
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