Doctor Faustus is a classic; its imaginative boldness and vertiginous ironies have fascinated readers and playgoers alike. But the fact that this play exists in two early versions, printed in 1604 and 1616, has posed formidable problems for critics. How much of either version was written by Marlowe, and which is the more authentic? Is the play orthodox or radically interrogative?
Michael Keefer’s early work helped to establish the current consensus that the 1604 text was censored and revised; the Keefer edition, praised for its lucid introduction and scholarship, was the first to restore two displaced scenes to their correct place. Most competing editions presume that the 1604 text was printed from authorial manuscript, and that the 1616 text is of little substantive value. But in 2006 Keefer’s fresh analysis of the evidence showed that the 1604 quarto’s Marlovian scenes were printed from a corrupted manuscript, and that the 1616 quarto (though indeed censored and revised) preserves some readings earlier than those of the 1604 text.
This edition has been updated and revised. Keefer’s critical introduction reconstructs the ideological contexts that shaped and deformed the play, and the text is accompanied by textual and explanatory notes and excerpts from sources.