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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: July ::
Re: Shakespeare on AUDIO; Shakespeare and Marlowe
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0505.  Saturday, 6 July 1996.

(1)     From:   Mark Womack <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Jul 1996 17:33:05 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0503  Q: Shakespeare on AUDIO

(2)     From:   Thomas Bishop <
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        Date:   Saturday, 6 Jul 1996 09:47:18 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0500  Shakespeare and Marlowe


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mark Womack <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Jul 1996 17:33:05 -0500
Subject: 7.0503  Q: Shakespeare on AUDIO
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0503  Q: Shakespeare on AUDIO

I have a partial answer to Ed Peschko's query about Shakespeare plays on CD.
The BBC Radio / Renaissance Theater Company have, I believe, released three
Shakespeare plays on CD: Hamlet (1992), Romeo and Juliet (1993), and King Lear
(1994).  I have only seen the Caedmon recordings on tape, not CD.

Mark Womack

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Bishop <
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Date:           Saturday, 6 Jul 1996 09:47:18 +1000
Subject: 7.0500  Shakespeare and Marlowe
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0500  Shakespeare and Marlowe

OK, I'll bite, since it looks like no one else is going to, much. This topic
seems to me the only really important question of "influence" (as opposed to a
more benign notion of "source") in Shakespeare's work. There is no doubt that
Shakespeare (what are our metaphors for this?) grappled with, responded to,
worked out/over/through, etc, what Marlowe's poetry meant to him and could do
for his over many years. About ten by my count, though there are even later
echoes (are Ariel's "yellow sands" a late and pacific echo of Hero and
Leander's -- for a happier couple NOT sundered by drowning?). Several critics
of note have asked this question, with variable answers. Aside from the kooks
who think (along with Woody Allen) that Shakespeare WAS Marlowe or Marlowe WAS
Shakespeare, and that neither of them was trustworthy, I can think of: F.P.
Wilson, Muriel Bradbrook, Nicholas Brooke, Wilbur Sanders, Marge Garber, James
Shapiro, and of course the indefatigable Harold Bloom, who more or less owns
this sort of question and who, for all the flack he gets, has still one of the
most original and responsive minds (not to mention ears) in this business.

I think a lot of the stakes here lie in (or can be read in) the choice of
shaping metaphors for the relations of the writers. Bloom speaks repeatedly of
Shakespeare's having "swallowed" Marlowe whole, like Jonah and the Whale
(except for Barabas, whom he apparently couldnt digest). This is the strongest
image of the many on offer. Shapiro speaks of a process of "parody and
containment" which is milder, though the latter sometimes sounds like a pale
(or impaled) version of Bloom's more bodily engulfment. Shapiro looks for
specific echoes and evocations of Marlowe's lines, Bloom goes for wholesale
parallels of representational mode or mood. Garber's key image is of the two
playing a kind of poker, putting down plays to trump one another. The
aggressivity of this looks to me more like the relations between literary
critics than between poets, as though a poet wrote a poem -mainly- to show up
another poet (OK sometimes they do), and not from some other need that had to
"speak with" that poet in order to define its own terms more clearly. Would it
improve, or at least modulate, our way of speaking, to imagine the two
playwrights, even after Marlowe's death, engaging in a kind of "conversation"
with one another, as poets often do. "So that's how it seems to you?....But it
seems to me rather -this- way..." Bloom in particular can be very subtle about
these exchanges (he has proposed several taxonomies of ways of saying this in
poems, not reducible to mere competitive aggression) though even he is inclined
to stress the "trumping" aspects. When Shelley seriously disagrees with
Coleridge about "Nature's message", he doesnt so much "parody and contain" him,
or swallow him, or trump him, as reply to him: "Mont Blanc" for the "Hymn at
Sunrise". In the relations between "The Jew of Malta" and "The Merchant of
Venice" can we trace a similar process? "No, the world isnt like that, it's
like this: love is possible. One can find one's way out of the wilderness, even
the wilderness of monkeys." This makes Portia, and NOT Shylock, his principle
imaginative response to Barabas, and explains why he showed no interest in
"swallowing" the latter: less inability than disbelief. Marlowe might well have
laughed rather bitterly at this, if he had been alinve still, and I dont myself
think this is his most effective reply, but I think it is what he was trying to
do. I rather think of the two poets as engaged in a kind of strongly felt
debate with their plays, if you like, as their statements of "the case". This
is competitive, if you like, but in a different way, in the way religions
compete to assert their truths,  or philosophies their insights.

From this point of view, Marlowe's death becomes a kind of sublime attempt at a
final word. Except, of course, that it wasnt.

Well, let's see if that ball will roll.

   Tom Bishop
 

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