The story of Faust preoccupied Goethe from his early twenties to his early fifties. Faust is a master of philosophy, law, medicine and theology. But like Goethe himself, the more he knows, the more he seeks to know outside the boundaries of conventional wisdom.
As Philip Wayne writes in his introduction, Goethe 'had committed himself devotedly to a poet's life long challenge of the mystery of existence. We know that Goethe weighed in his mind several stories as possible vehicles of his longings and belief, but the Faust legend took increasingly powerful form in his imagination, and the strength of his young genius is seen in the resolution with which he remoulded the story.'