My reviews for today consist of two entirely different books – well, one is a novel and one is a play – written by Christophers, which I read one after the other back in September. I liked both pieces for certain reasons, but I found them ultimately disappointing overall.
Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe ***
This play, the first of Marlowe’s which I’ve read, tells the story of a German man, the Doctor Faustus of the title, who sells his soul to the devil. The sense of history is built up well throughout Doctor Faustus, as is the social context. I liked the inclusion of the Good and Bad Angels and the personified deadly sins, and felt that they had a real impact upon the power of the play. The chorus worked well in this respect too. The storyline is an interesting one, and I very much enjoyed the element of questioning the unknowns throughout, but I did not always find the writing very fluid. I found myself constantly comparing it to Shakespeare, and being ultimately disappointed that it wasn’t longer or better structured. An interesting and relatively enjoyable play, but not one which has made me want to rush out and read more Marlowe.
Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood ***
Before beginning Goodbye to Berlin, I was very excited about reading my first Isherwood book. I first heard of him some years ago, when I watched a BBC drama featuring Matt Smith about aspects of his life in Germany. I did like this book overall, and I very much admired Isherwood’s writing, but the way in which it was told – in vignettes which sometimes overlapped and often didn’t – was not overly appealing to me as a reader. My favourite tale was entitled ‘Sally Bowles’, and this was the sole story which appealed to me from beginning to end. ‘A Berlin Diary’ was also rather interesting. I would like to read one of Isherwood’s novels in future, as I think that with a more fully developed storyline and more space with which to describe people, places and themes, he will feel like a truly marvellous author.