Christopher Marlowe

M. L. Stapleton

in British and Irish Literature

ISBN: 9780199846719
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
Christopher Marlowe

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Interest in Christopher Marlowe (b. 1564–d. 1593), England’s first poet-playwright, has been steady since the middle of the 19th century but has increased substantially since the 1960s. It often features a biographical current. Some who conflate literary analysis with life study also sensationalize the contested documentary “facts”: the author’s alleged atheism, homosexuality, brawling, espionage, and blasphemy. Much scholarly analysis of his relatively small canon emphasizes the alleged relationship of these controversial elements to his “overreaching” protagonists. Academic Marlowe studies have changed dramatically during this period, especially in the area of reception. The scholar Patrick Cheney cites five major trends during 1964–2000: subjectivity, sexuality, politics, religion, and poetics. The once-privileged conception of the single, independently creating author with a fairly well-defined canon and literary personality has been to some degree replaced by what Leah Marcus has labeled “the Marlowe effect.” “Marlowe” is simply a convenient corporate entity to describe a number of related texts. Independent authorship cannot be precisely determined, since these texts were surely the product of collaboration, which helps account for their immense, even revolutionary influence on English literature. This indeterminacy extrudes into biographical studies as well. In spite of Marlowe’s amazing output, produced in only six or eight years, it is often forgotten that no work with his name on the title page was published in his lifetime.

Article.  12913 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (British and Irish)

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