Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born in 1749. He studied at Leipzig, where he showed interest in the occult, and at Strassburg, where Herder introduced him to Shakespeare's works and to folk poetry. He produced some essays and lyrical verse, and at twenty-four came to fame as part of the Sturm und Drang movement - a position established on the publication of The Sorrows of Young Werther. Goethe worked on Faust throughout his life, while travelling through Italy and returning to Weimar, where he directed the State Theatre. He died in 1832. David Constantine is a poet, novelist, biographer, playwright and translator. He has taught German at the Universities of Durham, Oxford and is currently Visiting Professor in the School of English at the University of Liverpool. He lives in Oxford and (with his wife the translator Helen Constantine) is joint editor of Modern Poetry in Translation. His book of poetry Something for the Ghosts was short listed for the 2002 Whitbread Prize and his translation of Hans Magnus Enzensberger's Lighter than Air, won the Corneliu Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation in 2003. His translation of Faust, Part One appeared from Penguin in 2005.
One of those great works of literature into which a writer has been able to combine his ranging preoccupations and understanding as he worked. -A. S. Byatt, from the Preface