Stapleton, M. L., Marlowe's Ovid: The Elegies in the Marlowe Canon

By Lunney, Ruth | Parergon, July 2016 | Go to article overview

Stapleton, M. L., Marlowe's Ovid: The Elegies in the Marlowe Canon


Lunney, Ruth, Parergon


Stapleton, M. L., Marlowe's Ovid: The Elegies in the Marlowe Canon, Farnham, Ashgate, 2014; hardback; pp. 272; R.R.P. 65.00 [pounds sterling]; ISBN 9781472424945.

Christopher Marlowe's 'Ovidian poetics' is the subject of Marlowe's Ovid, with M. L. Stapleton using Marlowe's Elegies--his translation of Ovids Amores--to 'read' the seven plays and Hero and Leander. The book engages with studies of Marlowe, but also with ones of classical influence, translation, and sexuality.

In particular, Stapleton challenges Patrick Cheneys view in Marlowe's Counterfeit Profession: Ovid, Spenser, Counter-Nationhood (University of Toronto Press, 1997) that Marlowe sought a professional career path based on Ovid's progression from love poetry to tragedy to epic, in deliberate contrast to Spenser's Virgilian course. Stapleton sees Ovids influence differently, identifying the process of translating the Amores as the key to Marlowe's development as a writer. Ovid's Amores is a series of poems about love affairs, using the persona of a young man, the desultor or 'inconstant lover' (the term originally referred to a circus rider who leapt from one horse to another), who reveals himself to be passionate, certainly, but also selfish, amoral, misogynistic, and self-deluded, with an 'ambitious ranging mind' (Elegies 2.4.48). Marlowe's Elegies is notable as the first substantial vernacular translation of the Amores--moreover, the standard English translation until 1688--and the first extended use of the heroic couplet. …

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