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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: July ::
Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0507.  Monday, 8 July 1996.

(1)     From:   Douglas S. Bruster <
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        Date:   Saturday, 6 Jul 1996 10:58:38 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0505 Re: Shakespeare/Marlowe/Bloom

(2)     From:   Charles Ross <
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        Date:   Monday, 8 Jul 1996 09:55:58 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0505 Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe

(3)     From:   Ed Bonahue <
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        Date:   Monday, 8 Jul 1996 12:54:47 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe

(4)     From:   Vincent J Mooney Jr. <
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        Date:   Saturday, 06 Jul 1996 21:41:19 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0505  Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe w/ Editor's Note

(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Douglas S. Bruster <
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Date:           Saturday, 6 Jul 1996 10:58:38 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 7.0505 Re: Shakespeare/Marlowe/Bloom
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0505 Re: Shakespeare/Marlowe/Bloom

I want to pick up on Tom Bishop's recent posting regarding questions of
influence, intertextuality, and textual dialogue among Shakespeare and other
writers and texts. Bishop points out that Harold Bloom has himself had a large
influence on the way we understand these issues, and he's surely right to hint
that sometimes that influence has been less than helpful.  My major differences
with Bloom are over the (for lack of a better term) "aristocratic" nature of
his understanding of influence: to put it more briefly than it deserves, Great
Poets read and respond to (devour, etc.) other Great Poets.  While it would be
foolish to say that a writer like Marlowe wasn't an informing presence to the
works of many of his contemporaries--Shakespeare and Jonson included--a
canonical approach to literary composition tends to erase the importance of
writers who have not made it into the _Norton Anthology_, or modern reading
lists.  And in erasing that importance an exclusionary approach falsifies our
understanding of these plays.  We get, in such arguments, a literary House of
Lords, but no Commons.

The tendency I am describing here isn't confined to Bloom, of course: our
profession rewards scholars who write on "important" authors.  Not
surprisingly, then, do many celebrated critical works construct narratives of
influence that all but exclude non-canonical authors, regardless of the actual
communities of influence and exchange that may have obtained historically.
Along these lines, I would point to a relevant observation in Mary Thomas
Crane's _Framing Authority_, which argues that the commonplace book-method of
composition led early modern writers to see their engagement with "literature
as the collection and redeployment of . . . fragments and not, in many cases,
as the assimilation and imitation of whole works." It is part of Crane's
argument that the account of imitation offered in _The Light in Troy_, for
instance, doesn't adequately explain the real practices of reading and
composition in early modern England.

Those interested (as I was) in Bishop's remarks about intertextuality as
dialogue might want to consult, for the term "textual dialogue," R.D. Bedford's
_ Dialogues with Convention: Readings in Renaissance Poetry_; and, in addition
to James Shapiro's _Rival Playwrights_, which I mentioned in an earlier post,
two other books which have similar interests: Richard S. Ide's _Possessed with
Greatness: The Heroic Tragedies of Chapman and Shakespeare_; and Robert N.
Watson, _Ben Jonson's Parodic Strategy: Literary Imperialism in the Comedies_.
Ide, I should point out, draws on a relevant statement by Anne Barton: "in the
small, closely connected world of the Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights, the
evolution of dramatic form took the shape of a dialogue among plays.  Writers
reacted intensely to one another's work, and in a variety of ways." Finally, a
very rich essay on source study generally--and new paradigms for the study of
intertextuality--is Robert S. Miola, "Othello Furens," _Shakespeare Quarterly_
41 (1990), pp. 49-69.

Douglas Bruster

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Ross <
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Date:           Monday, 8 Jul 1996 09:55:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0505 Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0505 Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe

Thomas Bishop asks if Ariel's "yellow sands" are a "late and pacific echo of
Marlowe's "Hero and Leander." Perhaps, but both Shakespeare and M. would have
had in mind Aeneas's first sight of the Tiber River pouring into the sea
"flavus multa arena": yellow with much sand, a stunning Virgilian image from
book 7 that both authors would have worked on in their young school days.

On the larger issue of imitation: isn't it a little parochial to get worked up
about Shakespeare and Marlowe? Or did Shakespeare regard Marlowe as the English
representative of all the classical and Renaissance poetry out there in
languages other than English?

Charles Ross
Purdue Univ.

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Bonahue <
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Date:           Monday, 8 Jul 1996 12:54:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe

A few rejoinders to the conversation on Shakespeare and Marlowe.  Most
importantly, however, is the question of what we mean by "Marlowe."  How
comfortable are we, for example, with identifying a single Marlovian style?
Obviously "Hero and Leander," TAMBURLAINE, and DR FAUSTUS demonstrate a certain
range of style.

Next, Tom Bishop's assertaion that Shakespeare's relation to Marlowe is "the
only really important question of influence" simplifies, to me, the whole
question of influence--what it is, how it works.  For example, does it matter
whether Shakespeare sat over a Marlowe play, worked through it, and sought to
come to terms with it?  Or can't influence also be more subtle, even
unconscious--the product of barely remembered ideas and language?  Certainly if
the various avenues of cultural studies have taught us anything, they have
taught us that "influence" is often an extremely subtle process.

And finally, I think once the issue of what constitutes an instance of
influence and what does not and what is somewhere in between is brought into
play, then the generalizations of critics like Bloom, Garber, etc., while
useful as generalizations, become cumbersome when we begin to discuss specific
cases.  Most of us are probably a lot more comfortable discussing, say,
Pistol's cant as a humorous rehashing of Tamburlaine, or any number of heroic
speeches as imitative of Marlowe's poetic style, than we are discussing
Shakespeare and Marlowe in such broad terms.  Right, well, I am:)

Ed Bonahue
University of Florida

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vincent J Mooney Jr. <
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Date:           Saturday, 06 Jul 1996 21:41:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0505  Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe [w/ Editor's Note]
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0505  Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe [w/ Editor's Note]

Tom Bishop wrote in part:

snip snip  ...   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   ... snip snip  ...  Bloom speaks repeatedly of Shakespeare's
having "swallowed" Marlowe whole, like Jonah and the Whale (except for Barabas,
whom he apparently couldnt digest).  ... snip snip  ...  In the relations
between "The Jew of Malta" and "The Merchant of Venice" can we trace a similar
process? ... end of my selective snips.

1.  The reasoning process is that Shakespeare was not the man from Stratford as
based on the plays and sonnets and poems. Many people have come to this
conclusion.

2.  Another reasoned process of many is that Shakespeare was multiple authors
as indicated by the plays and poems and sonnets and plays.

3.  People in groups one and two look for evidence beyond the was Shakespeare a
Lawyer issue and Was Shakespeare a Nobleman issue.  They try to match a writer
with the works.

4.  One match is the evidence that Marlowe influenced Shakespeare and "The Jew
of Malta" play is one such point.  Not sufficient in my view, but I can see the
reason why people elect to put this view out.

Reference to such people as kooks does not help disspell the evidence that is
offered.  At the least, Shakespeare was a collective effort; at the most he was
one man who "knew the times" (as do many playwrights today) and could pick from
the works of others freely.

I do not think that Marlowe was Shakespeare.  Or Oxford.  But I do think the
issue of who this man was (does one accept that he was the Stratford man?)
cannot be ignored.  Perhaps this thread is not the place to look it over  --
so much else worthwhile is available  --  but the topic is not going away.

               Vincent J Mooney Jr.

[Editor's Note:

I must repeat discussions of authorship are no longer permitted on SHAKSPER.
To those of us who make our livings studying and teaching these works,
authorship simply is NOT an issue.  As Russ McDonald puts it in *The Bedford
Companion to Shakespeare*, "The strongest case against Oxford or Bacon or
Marlowe or anyone, however, arises not from a barrage of negative arguments but
rather from the positive evidence placing William Shakespeare of Stratford in
London between 1592 and 1612, connecting him to the theatrical scene there
(specifically his membership in the King's Men), and identifying him with the
published texts that derived from public performances and that bear his name"
(26).

I would also like strongly to recommend again Dave Kathman's and Terry Ross's
Shakespeare Authorship Web Page: Dedicated to the Proposition that Shakespeare
Wrote Shakespeare -- http://www.bcpl.lib.md.us/~tross/ws/will.html Kathman and
Ross bring together an impressive array of materials organzied under the
following: Introduction, Critically Examining Oxfordian Claims, The Spelling
and Pronunciation of Shakespeare's Name, Dating *The Tempest*, Puttenham on
Oxford, Shakespeare IN FACT, Funeral Elegy, Bardlinks Elsewhere on the Web.
For anyone who may be interested I reproduce below their Introduction:

>Many books and articles have been written arguing that someone other than
>William Shakespeare, the glover's son from Stratford-upon-Avon, wrote the plays
>and poems published under his name. There exist sincere and intelligent people
>who believe there is strong evidence that Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of
>Oxford, was the author of these plays and poems. Yet professional Shakespeare
>scholars -- those whose job it is to study, write, and teach about Shakespeare
>-- are unanimous in finding Oxfordian claims to be groundless, often not even
>worth discussing.

>Why is this? Oxfordians claim that these scholars are blinded to the evidence
>by a vested self-interest in preserving the authorship of "the Stratford Man,"
>and some more extreme Oxfordians claim that there is an active conspiracy among
>orthodox scholars to suppress pro-Oxford evidence and keep it from the
>attention of the general public. The truth, however, is far more prosaic.
>Oxfordians are not taken seriously by the Shakespeare establishment because
>(with few exceptions) they do not follow basic standards of scholarship, and
>the "evidence" they present for their fantastic scenarios is either distorted,
>taken out of context, or flat-out false.

>This web site is for the intelligent nonspecialist who doesn't know what to
>make of these challenges to Shakespeare's authorship. Oxfordian books can be
>deceptively convincing to a reader who is unaware of the relevant historical
>background and unused to the rhetorical tricks used by Oxfordians. Our aim is
>to provide context where needed, expose misinformation passed off by Oxfordians
>as fact, and in general show the nonspecialist reader why professional
>Shakespeare scholars have so little regard for Oxfordian claims. We know from
>experience that we are not likely to convince any Oxfordians to change their
>views, but we hope that other readers will find something of value here. We
>will be updating and adding new material as time permits, and we welcome any
>comments or suggestions.

>Dave Kathman
>Terry Ross]
 

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