Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Faust: 48% Complete

Now that Faust has sold his soul to the devil, he and Mephistopheles are cavorting around the countryside with Faust getting his wishes granted, more or less.
In this scene, Faust has asked to be younger (interesting to note that people's top wishes haven't changed a whole lot).  Mephistopheles tells Faust he has a way to do that, and his instructions are:
"Out to the fields without delay,
And take to hacking, digging, planting;
Run the same round from day to day,
A treadmill-life, contented, leading,
With simple fare both mind and body feeding,
Life with the beast as beast, nor count it robbery
Shouldst thou manure, thyself, the field thou reapest;
Follow this course and, trust to me,
For eighty years thy youth thou keepest!"
Of course Faust doesn't much like his suggestion, but Mephistophales's description of the "simple," idyllic life of a farmer reminded me of Leo Tolstoy's depiction of Konstantin Levin's life on the farm in Anna Karenina (I confess, after I read that book I wanted to move to a farm, even though I grew up on one).  It also points out the human desire to get things without working for them.
The word/phrase of the day is "as lief" which means "as happily or as gladly" (definition from The New Oxford American Dictionary).
Before I sign off for now, I want to suggest a holiday gift idea for new parents/grandparents or anyone who has care of small children.  I am convinced that my love for reading, and indeed the ease with which I communicate can be traced back to the fact that my parents faithfully read to me from the day I was born.  The Read-Aloud Handbook outlines research that demonstrates how beneficial reading to kids can be and is a wonderful gift for anyone who has influence over children!
Happy Holidays to one and all!

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