The World of Christopher Marlowe
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Shakespeare's contemporary, Christopher Marlowe revolutionized English drama and poetry, transforming the Elizabethan stage into a place of astonishing creativity. The outline of Marlowe's life, work, and violent death are known, but few of the details that explain why his writing and ideas made him such a provocateur in the Elizabethan era have been available until now. In this absorbing consideration of Marlowe and his times, David Riggs presents Marlowe as the language's first poetic dramatist whose desires proved his undoing.
In an age of tremendous cultural change in Europe when Cervantes wrote the first novel and Copernicus demonstrated a world subservient to other nonreligious forces, Catholics and Protestants battled for control of England and Elizabeth's crown was anything but secure. Into this whirlwind of change stepped Marlowe espousing sexual freedom and atheism. His beliefs proved too dangerous to those in power and he was condemned as a spy and later murdered. Riggs's exhaustive research digs deeply into the mystery of how and why Marlowe was killed.
Printed by Henrie Middleton for William Norton. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, city collection. Cartwright, T. (1572) A Second Admonition to the Parliament. Hemel Hempstead: J. Stroud. Case, J. (1585) Speculum Moralium Quaestionum in Vniversam Ethicen Aristotelis. Oxoniæ: Ex officina typographica Iosephi Barnesii celeberrima Academiæ Oxoniensis typographi. Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, archives. Garnier, R. and T. Kyd (1594) Cornelia. London: Printed by James Roberts for
menace, hardly anyone was accused of openly attacking religion. There was biblical precedent for this compromise. ‘The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God’ (Psalms 13:1), but the fool kept his mouth shut in public. Christopher Marlowe was the great exception that proved this rule. Closet atheists were part of the social order; open atheists cried out for swift and violent retribution. CHAPTER THREE Speaking like a Roman Marlowe began attending classes at the King’s School around the
Map of Cambridge. From Franz Hogenberg and Georgius Braun, Civitates Orbis Terrarum, 1575. Corpus Christi (Benet College) appears at the centre to the right. Heading north on Trumpington Street, Marlowe passed by Peterhouse and Pembroke College. He entered Cambridge through the Trumpington Gate, crossed Penny-farthing Lane, so named for the poverty of its inhabitants, and continued past the parish church of St Botolph’s, on the south side of Corpus Christi College. To the right, he had his first
away the shape … the use also is taken away’, or that ‘a house is builded to dwell in’, or that ‘when substance is taken away, there can be nothing made at all.’ The rules of dialectical disputation required one contestant (the Answerer) to defend a thesis, and another (the Questioner) to attack it. The Questioner’s job in this contest was to lure the Answerer into giving an answer that the Questioner could then use to overthrow the Answerer’s own position. Leander accomplishes this feat when he
they led the exodus to the countryside. The Queen’s Men had a straightforward ideological agenda. Their repertory featured patriotic plays about English history, preferably with an anti-Catholic or pro-Tudor bias. They also specialized in old-fashioned morality plays and fairy-tale romances about long-lost aristocrats. Their shows mingled the ‘truth’ of Protestant history with a lot of extemporaneous clowning. They spoke in rhymed verse and prose. This state-sponsored version of wholesome