Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe

Excerpt

The peculiar difficulties which beset Marlowe's biographers are inherent in the subject, for little is known of his life and some of his most important works are incomplete or survive only in corrupt texts; but the task of gathering together indications and of interpreting from them the nature of the mind and character of the man whom they reveal, promises a reward before which the difficulties are insignificant. It is a task which still remains to be accomplished and which can only be achieved by a long succession of readers drawn by the profound value of his thought and the beauty of his poetry, to give to his work consideration more patient than most of his contemporaries demand.

For Marlowe, in spite of the imperfect expression of some of his ideas, has actually left us in no doubt as to the clearness of his ultimate vision. To some he apparently makes no appeal, while Shakespeare appeals to all. Yet, in reality, Marlowe speaks of things no less profound and no less universal than Shakespeare. Wherever men are preoccupied with the 'why?' rather than the 'how?' in whatever periods of history thought turns back to question the nature of man's being and the part he plays in the universe, there the thought of Marlowe will be found to be at the heart of man's most vital experience. Wherever fundamental instincts and intuitions have been overlaid by convention, superstition or hypocrisy, until it becomes necessary to question again the purpose of life in order that life may again be sane, there Marlowe's trenchant and fearless mind will be found warning men "not to be afraid of bugbeares." He is the Lucretius of the English language, and though he does not accompany men closely in their . . .

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