Sorge and Faust: Toward a Literary Criticism of Denial

Susanne Fuchs


The following article rereads Goethe’s Faust as it seriously considers the text’s interplay with and the implications of the parentheses formed by Faust’s encounters with Sorge: Faust mentions Sorge during his suicide contemplations in the first scene of the play, and he denies his acquaintance with the phenomenon at the very end of his stage life. This denial, the article maintains, is facilitated by the distractions and contortions that Mephistopheles’ grand monde and its representational politics devise. The indeterminacy and flamboyance of signs marking the play’s contestation of capitalist logics reappear amplified in Karl Marx’s work and Marxist theories of the 20th century. In the surveyed texts, commodity production’s tampering with processes of signification arises as one of the root causes for modern societies’ proclivity for willful ignorance. Conceiving a literary criticism of denial, the article highlights the Faust-tragedy’s dramatic strategies for the depiction of the elusive phenomenon. (SF)

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