FAUST by Robert Nye


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Hey, Faust"". . . . So begins Nye's slangy, shaggy, pseudo-Rabelaisian reworking of the Faust legend-but the demythifying raunchiness that worked fairly well for Falstaff (1976) and Merlin (1979) mostly falls fiat in this macabre, pornographic description of Faust's last 40 days (before the Devil comes to claim his soul). . . as told by ""Kit"" Wagner, Faust's servant/son/executioner. Forget the noble archetype: Nye's Faust is an unwashed 1540 stumblebum with a permanent boil on his nose and an intermittent yen for sodomitical rape; he's a seedy has-been trying to renew his 24-year contract with the Devil by murdering Pope Paul III (with a poisoned communion wafer). And, when not figuring out how to put off the hellfire, Faust and Kit are hanging around the castle with kinky women, indulging in an irritatingly anachronistic stream of hiptaik (""We had this long hassle about Predestination""), or copulating with a necromantic harem-""a row of amazing young chicks"" who are mysteriously swept away, one after another, by the infernal powers. There are also sophomoric puns, irrelevant bits of stray erudition, jokes about Luther and Calvin, and a guest appearance by the Virgin Mary. There's no doubt that Nye is, on his own terms, a skillful writer, and he is always interested in more than mere scatalogical horseplay. But this time his tireless jazziness becomes tiresome, he degrades the tragic vision of the Faust originals without putting anything in their place, and-like a gifted raconteur telling a long, tasteless joke-he starts on a false note and stays there throughout.

Pub Date: March 18th, 1981
Publisher: Putnam