A Preface to Marlowe

A Preface to Marlowe

A Preface to Marlowe

A Preface to Marlowe

Synopsis

This study provides an authoritative overview of all Marlowe's work. It includes thorough investigations of his major plays, Tamburlaine, Edward II, The Jew of Malta and Doctor Faustus as well as a full discussion of The Massacre at Paris, Dido Queen of Carthage and all his extant poetry. Analysis of Faustus takes full account of both A and B text versions. Thoroughly researched and yet presented in an accessible, engaging style, A Preface to Marlowe reads Marlowe's life and times, as well as his work, in the light of current critical theory. Consequently, it is a vital guide for all students of early modern drama. As well as providing sharp analysis of stage history, Dr Simkin reflects on the wider significance of a stage-oriented approach. The result is a reading of Marlowe that re-opens debates about his status as a radical figure and as a subversive playwright and invites the reader to experience the plays as immediate, exciting, 'live' documents.

Excerpt

The Preface Books series approaches the work of the author from a particular perspective: by introducing the writer via a biographical sketch and a survey of his or her cultural and social context, it encourages readers to root their understanding of the texts in the period in which they were produced. The titles given to the two opening chapters – ‘Marlowe in his time’ and ‘The time of Marlowe’ – aim to reflect the commitment to a contextual approach. At the same time, both chapters urge a degree of caution, warning against the impulse to draw straightforward conclusions about Marlowe’s work from a knowledge of his life and times. In Elizabethan London his plays attracted large audiences, provoked respect, parody and vituperative jealousy among rival playwrights, and drew the sharp eye of the state censor. Marlowe himself was a remarkable and provocative figure, and it is tempting to correlate the controversial issues that the plays address with what we know (or think we know) about him, his personality and his beliefs.

Marlowe remains, for many critics, intricately bound up with his subject matter: if we choose to read Edward II as the story of a king brought down by his all-consuming love for another man, it is difficult not to make a connection with Marlowe’s reported declaration ‘That all they that love not tobacco and boys were fools’. Doctor Faustus and The Jew of Malta, in their different ways, can be seen to cast a sceptical eye on religion, and we learn that Marlowe was arrested on account of supposed heretical and atheistic beliefs – ‘monstrous opinions’, as his onetime friend and fellow playwright Thomas Kyd referred to them. Even Marlowe’s poetry caused controversy: an edition of his translations of Ovid was one of a number of books that the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered to be burned six years after his death. Tamburlaine the Great and The Massacre at Paris revel in their garish violence and Edward II includes one of the most shocking executions in stage history. But Marlowe himself remains perhaps more famous than his plays: his violent death at the age of 29, stabbed through the eye in a fight (we are told) over a . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.