Introduction: Marlowe in the twenty–first century

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‖that pure elemental wit Chr. Marlowe, whose ghost or genius is to be seen walk the Churchyard in (at the least) three or four sheets. Christopher Marlowe (1564-93) enters the twenty-first century arguably the most enigmatic genius of the English literary Renaissance. While the enigma of Marlowe’s genius remains difficult to circumscribe, it conjures up that special relation his literary works have long been held to have with his life. In 1588, fellow writer Robert Greene inaugurates printed commentary by accusing Marlowe of ‘daring god out of heaven with that Atheist Tamburlan’ (MacLure, p. 29), an imitation of Marlowe’s description of his own protagonist, whose ‘looks do menace heaven and dare the gods’ (1 Tamb. 1.2.157), and indicating that the Marlovian 'ghost or genius’ rather slyly haunts his own historical making. Perhaps the enigma continues to fascinate today because the brilliant creator of such masterpieces in lyric and tragedy as ‘The Passionate Shepherd to His Love’ and Doctor Faustus was ignominiously arrested no fewer than four times - three for street-fighting and a fourth for counterfeiting - and was under house arrest for (potentially) dissident behaviour when he received a fatal knife-wound to the right temple in what proved his darkest hour. If his life was dissident, his works were iconoclastic, and both are difficult to capture. Reflecting variously on the enigma of Marlovian genius, the present Companion includes sixteen subsequent chapters by distinguished women and men from the United Kingdom and the United States spread over as many topics as such a volume can contain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Christopher Marlowe
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780511999055
ISBN (Print)9780521820349
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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