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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0015  Tuesday, 6 January 1999.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Jan 1999 12:33:09 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Shakespeare and Marlowe

[2]     From:   Marion Oldenburg <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Jan 1999 16:40:08 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1348 Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Jan 1999 12:33:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Shakespeare and Marlowe

In response to my assertion that Shakespeare seems to have been
confident of his own powers as a poet, Peter Groves quotes the opening
line of Sonnet 86, "Was it the proud full sail of his [Marlowe's?] great
verse," apparently in opposition to my initial statement. Now, even if
we grant (1) that Shakespeare himself is the speaker, and (2) that he is
referring to Marlowe, we still have to ask, "What is the plain sense of
Sonnet 86?"

As I read it, the speaker says that his supposed inability to write
(contradicted, of course, by the evidence of the sonnet itself), does
NOT come from Marlowe's great verse, or from his muse, taught perhaps by
great artists of the past. None of these possibilities scare the speaker
in the least! What bothers the speaker is that the rival poet has made
the speaker's friend the subject of his verse, OR, that the rival poet's
verse really isn't so hot, but its defects are more than made up for by
the fact that the speaker's friend approves of these verses.

How, then, does Sonnet 86 display a Bloomian "anxiety of influence"?  In
fact, the sonnet itself sounds a lot like the final comments of the
Chorus in H5: "Thus far, with rough and all-unable pen,/Our bending
author hath pursued the story . . ." (1-2), which is clearly
tongue-in-cheek, since Shakespeare has just finished writing one of the
greatest meditations on history and politics ever read or seen.

I reach two conclusions: (1) Shakespeare was modest (or careful, or some
of both), and (2) he knew damn well how good he was.

Happy New Year,
--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marion Oldenburg <
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Jan 1999 16:40:08 -0700
Subject: 9.1348 Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1348 Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe

Surely a further instance of Marlowe's influence on Shakespeare can be
seen in the balcony scenes of The Jew of Malta (II.i) and Romeo and
Juliet (II.ii).  These scenes are similar not only in their use of the
balcony but also, I think, some lines seem similar: Barabas:  "But stay!
What star shines yonder int he east? / The lodestar of my life, if
Abigail. / Who's there?" (The Jew of Malta II.i.41-43).  Juliet:  "But
soft! What light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east, and
Juliet is the sun" (R&J II.ii.1-2).

Shakespeare must have had The Jew of Malta on his mind while writing
R&J, no?

Happy New Year,
Scott Oldenburg
SFSU
 

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