Friday, January 22, 2010

Christopher Marlowe was the Shiznit

Here's the thing: although William Shakespeare was one of the greatest English writers of all time, I personally think that Christopher Marlowe was the shiznit.  Here's why:
  • Marlowe served as a source of inspiration for the Bard: for example, Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice shortly after Marlowe wrote The Jew of Malta (both of which, for those of you who don't know, feature horrible stereotypes of Jews that get what's coming to them.  Horribly offensive now, but what can you do?).
  • Doctor Faustus is an incredible play.  It shows Faustus' interior thoughts as well as the impact that sin can have on the soul.  In addition, for being so good, it was written far earlier in Marlowe's career than most of the "greats" that Shakespeare wrote.
  • Marlowe's life (at least, what we know about it) is significantly more interesting to read about than Shakespeare's: Marlowe had a quick temper that got him jailed on more than one occasion; he was deported from the Netherlands for counterfeiting coins; he was most likely gay; and he may have been a spy.
  • Marlowe died by getting stabbed in the eye in a barfight.   (Tell me that's not more interesting than leaving one's wife one's second best bed!)
  • Even more incredible, however, is the fact that many people actually believe that Marlowe's death was faked, since his friend Thomas Kyd (another amazing Elizabethan playwright) was tortured by the Queen's Privy Council into "implicating Marlowe as a heretic and an atheist."  Some of these same people (not including myself) also believe that Marlowe went on to write the plays we now attribute to Shakespeare.

Regardless of how much is legend and how much is truth, Christopher Marlowe was freaking awesome.


Daniele said...

Granted that all I've read by him is Dr. Faustus, I wasn't actually that impressed. I think I liked Goethe's version better. I realize I may be biased because I read Goethe's first and didn't know the story beforehand.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

It could also be that I took an Elizabethan Drama class under Albert Braunmuller, an absolutely AMAZING professor. We read something like 12 Elizabethan plays in 10 weeks, and I loved them all because he made them so interesting.

I will admit, though, that the two different versions of Doctor Faustus were confusing, and I preferred bits out of each.

Homero said...

In college, while everyone else was reading version A of the "Dr. Faustus", I was following along (in my incorrect Norton edition, to boot) version B. Half the time I was flipping around, wondering to myself "What the fuck are these people talking about?!"

Now, in Bill's defense, there is so much unknown about the guy, that he could have very well have been the mentor to Marlowe's bad assery. My favorite Shakespear rumor: he was a pirate.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

Ouch, I hate having the wrong edition! That makes life hell.

I tend to think of Shakespeare as being a mostly sedate businessman, but I could be wrong. I had a highschool English teacher who argued that Shakespeare was an alien.

Homero said...

Well, obviously, a guy with no education who wrote a ton of successful plays in London had to be an alien. It only makes sense.

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