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Marlowe's Dr Faustus is the play that has, more than any other, given us the legend of Faustus, the man for whom the price of knowledge was eternal damnation. But in this, his last major and sustained piece of work, the author challenges the integrity of the text as we have it, and with it, the shape of the Faust myth it inspired. The book presents the play as a crowning instance of the growing 16th-century preoccupation with magic, no longer the rank broth-boiling of the middle ages, but the home of the restless, questing philosopher. But it is also more crucially an instance, it argues, of severe religious censorship. The text we have can be seen to differ significantly from its closest sources, signalling the attentions of a religious censor unable to sanction so bold a challenge to orthodoxy by the questing Faustus. In its place, the author recreates the original and authentic Dr Faustus in which man and spirit are bound by far more complex mutual attractions than those of demonic pact, and which culminates in a scene not of abject damnation, but of Faustus' safely achieving his real physical and spiritual ends. This work advances a controversial thesis that not only questions our knowledge of the play, but our familiarity with the Faust-legend as well.
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