Quotes / Notes on Literature: Goethe’s Theatrical Machine

I have always imagined the creative aspect of the narrative arts–fiction, theatre, and motion pictures–as an exotic species of watch-making: tales put together using a million carefully crafted pieces, some little, some big, but all essential cogs in the narrative machinery. The processes of writing-directing-acting and reading-viewing imbuing it with the vital spark that clicks the myriad gears into place, revving the complex machine to life. The lingering feeling of a clock-work universe in motion is hard to ignore. Imagine my joy then, when I came across the following lines in the prologue to Goethe’s Faust Part I

Tonight, therefore, I say to you,

Do not spare our machinery.

Employ the sun and moon, do not hold back!

Use all the stars we have in stock;

Of water, fire, walls of rock,

And beasts and birds there is no lack.

In our narrow house of boards, bestride

The whole creation, far and wide;

Move thoughtfully, but fast as well,

From heaven through the world to hell.

Could there be a more magically exuberant description of bringing narratives to life?

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