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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: December ::
Shaksper and Marlow
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1338  Sunday, 27 December 1998.

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Dec 1998 14:55:10 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1334  Shakespeare's Debt to Marlowe

[2]     From:   John Cox <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Dec 1998 10:07:43 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare and Marlowe

[3]     From:   Francois Laroque <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Dec 1998 19:52:23 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1334 Shakespeare's Debt to Marlowe


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Dec 1998 14:55:10 -0500
Subject: 9.1334  Shakespeare's Debt to Marlowe
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1334  Shakespeare's Debt to Marlowe

Unless you want to date The Merchant of Venice before 1593, I think you
have to include The Jew of Malta in the list of Marlowe's plays used by
Shakespeare. (Of course, since Thomas Heywood may have rewritten a good
part of the play before its publication in 1633, my assertion is founded
on partially shaky grounds.) In any case, it seems to me that
Shakespeare is ironically referring to Marlowe's play in Merchant. As an
example, both Jewish daughters through money from an upstairs window,
but in quite different circumstances. Abigail is rescuing her father's
wealth, while Jessica is throwing hers to her lover.  Barabas and
Shylock obviously react differently to the money-throwing scene, but
both (reportedly in Shylock's case) confuse their daughters and their
ducats!  And so on.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Cox <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Dec 1998 10:07:43 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare and Marlowe

Two suggestions for Michael Ullyot, regarding Marlowe and Shakespeare:

(1) Charles Forker's essay, "Marlowe's *Edward II* and its Shakespearean
Relatives: the Emergence of a Genre" in John Velz, ed. *Shakespeare's
English Histories:  A Quest for Form and Genre* (1996);

(2) Session #527 at MLA, secheduled for Tuesday, 29 December, 1998, at
10:15 a.m.  The session is called "Marlowe and Shakespeare:  The Anxiety
of Influence."  Presiding will be Sara Munson Deats, University of South
Florida.  Three papers are scheduled, one on *Venus and Adonis* in the
context of *Hero and Leander*; one on wanton pamphlets and wayward women
in plays by both writers; one on *Jew of Malta* and *Merchant of
Venice.*

I mention both (1) and (2) on the assumption that Michael Ullyot will
not be travelling halfway around the world to attend a session at MLA!

Cheers,
John Cox

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Francois Laroque <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Dec 1998 19:52:23 +0100
Subject: 9.1334 Shakespeare's Debt to Marlowe
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1334 Shakespeare's Debt to Marlowe

I am grateful to Michel Ullyot for his question about the literary links
between Marlowe and Shakespeare. Indeed, like him, I am also interested
in Marlowe's influence (the rival 'brother') on Shakespeare and I think
that a lot of work remains to be done in this field. Here are a few
suggestions, some of them quite well-known and a simple, quick
recapitulation of facts.

First, if one is looking for obvious parallels between their works,
there are a number of obvious twin pieces like *Edward II*/*Richard II*,
*The Jew of Malta*/*The Merchant of Venice*, *Hero & Leander*/*Venus &
Adonis* ...

Second, there is the importance of a play like *Dr Faustus*, for which I
personally favour a later date of composition (i.e. 1593 rather than
1588), with a number of subsequent echoes in the Shakespearian canon.
Serious allusions in *Macbeth* and *The Tempest*, and jocular, parodic
ones in *Romeo & Juliet*  : Mercutio may be indeed be described as a
caricature of Marlowe, with his 'homoerotic pursuit of Romeo, his
allusion to spirits-queen Mab--, to "raising a spirit in his mistress'
circle", and his premature death in a trumped up duel that brutally
turns him into a 'grave man' etc etc). The case of * As You Like It* is
another good example. Indeed, this comedy insists a great deal on
parody, on 'pastiche', and on what the French Renaissance poet, musician
and jester Tabourot des Accords called the 'bigarrure' [I have a whole
article on this]. There are two famous allusions in it to Marlowe : one
by Phoebe ("Alas dead shepherd, now I find thy saw of might ..."), the
other by Touchstone ("...it strikes a man more dead than a great
reckoning in a little room"). This combines *The Jew of Malta*'s
"infinite riches in a little room" with a side glance at Marlowe's death
in Deptford tavern (allegedly a brawl over a tavern reckoning, but more
probably a calculated move to eliminate Walsingham's imprudent and
talkative 'secret agent'-see Pierre Lefranc thesis on *Walter Raleigh*,
1968, and Jean Jacquot on this). In *As You Like It*, Jaques may also be
regarded as a melancholy Dr Faustus using "Greek invocation[s] to call
fools in a circle" -like Faustus in the B-Text growing horns on
Benvolio's head.

One should also mention the critics who think the rival poet of *The
Sonnets* may have been either Marlowe or Chapman... But I haven't worked
enough on these to know whether there are also textual echoes from
Marlowe in *The Sonnets* and I'm interested in knowing more about this.
In his biography of Marlowe, A.L. Rowse alludes to that, but I have
always been quite suspicious of his hasty conclusions (see his
subsequent alleged 'discovery' of Shakespeare's Dark Lady).

Finally,  Robert Southwell, the Jesuit poet, alludes to his "worthy
cousen Mr W.S." in the dedication to the *Complaints of St Peter*, a now
very rare poem which he wrote before his horrible excecution in 1592,
where he simultaneously alludes to "Venus' rose" (Wriothesley, the
dedicatee of *Venus and Adonis* ?) and to 'the Marlin', which was also
one of the spellings of Marlowe's name. The information about all this
is to be found in a forthcoming paper by Richard Wilson on "The Politics
of *Venus and Adonis*", to be published by J.-M. Maguin in Montpellier,
France in Feb. 1999).

All this is intriguing and would, in my view, require a thesis and/or a
monography. Are there any recent, important publications and theses (in
England, America or elsewhere) about this question?

To answer, Michael Ullyot, I would say that Shakespeare, certainly
suffered from a Bloomian 'anxiety of influence', since it is only in
*The Tempest*, one of his last plays, that he could set himself free
from Marlowe's obsessional presence, since Prospero can be regarded as a
positive, successful Faustus, if not as an altogether generous or benign
figure. Interestingly enough, Shakespeare was similarly haunted by the
ghost of Robert Greene, the University Wit who had ruthlessly attacked
him as a plagiarist ("an upstart crow beautified with our feathers") in
his death-bed pamphlet in 1592. Shakespeare probably responded to the
pun on his name ('Shake-scene') by another pun on Greene's name in the
fairly cryptic allusion of sonnet 112 ("For what care I who calls me
well or ill/So you o'er-green my bad, my good allow?") and probably also
in *V&A* (Adonis as "green orator"). At the end of his career he came
back to Greene, also in a more constructive, pacified way, when he used
the pastoral romance *Pandosto* as one of his sources for *The Winter's
Tale*...

Finally, if Shakespeare did  from time to time lift material from other
texts(see the famous case of "The barge she sat in ..." where a lot is
actually directly imported from Plutarch, sometimes verbatim, even if
the whole piece is wonderfully versified and recreated into a new
whole), it should be said that young Marlowe himself literally plundered
*The Aeneid* in his *Dido, Queen  of Carthage*, where numerous lines
ring like a direct translations from Virgil's Latin. In his essay on
Christopher Marlowe (1919),  T.S. Eliot quotes a passage from  *The
Faerie Queene* which Marlowe lifted almost verbatim in *2 Tamburlaine*,
what he calls "an interesting theft of  Marlowe's from Spenser"! (p. 120
of his *Selected Essays*). At this juncture, one may wonder how far the
'widow Dido' and the Carthage/Tunis jokes in *Tempest* may be taken as
ironical echoes to Marlowe's play and to his treatment of his source
material...

I'll be grateful for remarks and interested to know if anyone from the
list has other suggestions to make on the Marlowe-Shakespeare
connection.

Fran

 

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