Shakespeare After Theory

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If there was a deception, they say, Danby must have been involved in it and thus almost certainly with the tacit approval of the Queen. This does, of course, give as much support to David Riggs's theory that the Queen ordered Marlowe's death [31] as it does to the faked death theory. Marlovians argue that if Frizer, Poley and Skeres could lie about what happened, they could just as easily have been lying about the identity of the corpse itself. In other words, that although they claimed it was Marlowe's—and as far as we know they were the only ones there in a position to identify him—it was in fact someone else's body that the jury was called upon to examine.

If a death is to be faked, however, a substitute body has to be found, and it was David A. More who first identified for Marlovians a far more likely "victim" than had been suggested earlier. Also of possible relevance is that the same William Danby would have been responsible for authorizing exactly what was to happen to Penry's corpse. Those who reject the theory claim that there would have been far too many obvious signs that the corpse had been hanged for it to have been used in this way, although Marlovians say that Danby, being solely in charge, would have been able quite easily to ensure that such evidence remained hidden from the jury.

However, this remains a fringe view within academia. In his Shakespeare and Co. The mainstream or Stratfordian view is that the author known as "Shakespeare" was the same William Shakespeare who was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in , moved to London and became an actor, and "sharer" part-owner of the acting company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men , which owned the Globe Theatre and the Blackfriars Theatre.

In contrast, Marlovians argue that this William Shakespeare was only a "front" for the real author, [33] and that any evidence supporting him as the true author can be just as easily explained by this version of events. A central plank in the Marlovian theory is that the first clear association of William Shakespeare with the works bearing his name was just 13 days after Marlowe's supposed death. Their argument remains highly contentious and no mainstream scholar of Shakespeare's life and work currently accepts it.

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Stanley Wells summarizes the reasons why Shakespearian scholars in general utterly reject any such idea: During this period he is alleged to have produced a string of masterpieces which must be added to those he had already written, which no one in the busy and gossipy world of the theatre knew to be his, and for which he was willing to allow his Stratford contemporary to receive all the credit and to reap all the rewards.

As discussed above, this is a much-disputed area. Much has been made—particularly by Calvin Hoffman—of so-called "parallelisms" between the two authors. There are many such examples, but the problem with using them as an argument is that it really is not possible to be sure whether they happened because they were by the same author, or because they were—whether consciously or unconsciously—simply copied by Shakespeare from Marlowe.

It is worth noting, however, that Marlowe is the only contemporary dramatist from whom Shakespeare appears to 'copy' so much, [36] and that the influence Marlowe had on Shakespeare is universally acknowledged. With stylometric approaches it is possible to identify certain characteristics which are very typical of Shakespeare, such as the use of particular poetic techniques or the frequency with which various common words are used, and these have been used to argue that Marlowe could not have written Shakespeare's works.

This was something that T. Mendenhall , whose work some Marlovians have nevertheless thought proves their theory, was at pains to point out. As for the less quantifiable differences—mainly to do with the content, and of which there are quite a lot—Marlovians suggest that they are quite predictable, given that under their scenario Marlowe would have undergone a significant transformation of his life—with new locations, new experiences, new learning, new interests, new friends and acquaintances, possibly a new political agenda, new paymasters, new performance spaces, new actors, [39] and maybe not all agree on this a new collaborator, Shakespeare himself.

The current preference among Shakespearian scholars is to deny that the Sonnets are autobiographical. In contrast, assuming that Marlowe did survive and was exiled in disgrace, Marlovians claim that the Sonnets reflect what must have happened to him after that.


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In Sonnet 25, for instance, a Marlovian interpretation would note that something unforeseen "unlooked for" has happened to the poet, which will deny him the chance to boast of "public honour and proud titles", and which seems to have led to some enforced travel far away, possibly even overseas 26—28, 34, 50—51, They would note that this going away seems to be a one-off event 48 , and whatever it was, it is clearly also associated with his being "in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes", his "outcast state" 29 , and his "blots" and "bewailed guilt" The poet also says that he has been "made lame by fortune's dearest spite" Each one of these segments, along with many other throughout the Sonnets, might be seen by a Marlovian as reflecting some aspect of Marlowe's alleged faked death and subsequent life.

Marlovians also claim that their interpretation allows more of Shakespeare's actual words to be interpreted as meaning literally what they say than is otherwise possible. For example, they can take "a wretch's knife" 74 to mean a wretch's knife, rather than assume that he must have really meant Old Father Time's scythe, take an "outcast state" 29 to mean an outcast state, not just a feeling that nobody likes him, and accept that when he says his "name receives a brand" it means that his reputation has been permanently damaged, and not simply that acting is considered a somewhat disreputable profession.

Shakespeare after Theory

Jonathan Bate nevertheless gives reasons for Shakespeare scholars claiming that "Elizabethans did not write coded autobiography". Faked or wrongly presumed death, disgrace, banishment, and changed identity are of course major ingredients in Shakespeare's plays, and Stephen Greenblatt puts it fairly clearly: The loss is obviously and immediately material, but it is also, and more crushingly, a loss of identity. Whilst noting the obvious relevance of this to their own proposed scenario Marlovians do not seek multiple parallels between Marlowe's known or predicted life and these stories, believing that the plays are so rich in plot devices that such parallels can be found with numerous individuals.

On the other hand, there are some places where they point out how difficult it is to know just why something was included if it were not some sort of in-joke for those who were privy to something unknown to most of us. For example, when in The Merry Wives of Windsor 3. And in As You Like It 3. As Agnes Latham puts it, [45] "nobody explains why Shakespeare should think that Marlowe's death by violence was material for a stage jester. The main case against the 'faked death' theory is that, whilst there is evidence for Marlowe's death, there is no equally unequivocal counter-evidence that he survived, or did anything more than exert a considerable influence on Shakespeare.

Various people have been suggested as having really been the Christopher Marlowe who was supposed to have died in And if Don Foster 's hypothesis is correct that the "begetter" of the Sonnets may have meant the poet himself, [49] then Marlovians would point out that "Mr.

Many anti-Stratfordians search for hidden messages in the form of acrostics and transposition ciphers, although this approach is not so popular with Marlovians. Peter Bull nevertheless claims to have found such a hidden message deeply concealed in the Sonnets, [50] and at least two Marlovians—William Honey [51] and Roberta Ballantine [52] —have taken the famous four-line "curse" on Shakespeare's grave to be an anagram , unfortunately coming up with different messages.

Anagrams as such are useful for conveying hidden messages, including claims of priority and authorship, having been used in this way, for example, by Galileo and Huygens , [53] but—given the number of possible answers—are really of use only if there can be some confirmation from the originator that this was the one he meant. For example, orthodox scholars often cite the poems in the First Folio as evidence for Shakespeare, such as Jonson's introductory poem describing the engraved portrait as having "hit his face" well, his eulogy that calls Shakespeare "sweet Swan of Avon", and Digges's line that refers to when "Time dissolves thy Stratford monument".

Yet Marlovians say those can each be interpreted in quite different ways. The "face", according to the Oxford English Dictionary When he writes of "Swan of Avon" we may choose to take it as meaning the Avon that runs through Stratford, or we may think of Daniel 's Delia , addressed to the mother of the First Folio's two dedicatees, in which he refers to the Wiltshire one where they all lived:.


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But Avon rich in fame, though poor in waters, Shall have my song, where Delia hath her seat. And when Digges writes "And Time dissolves thy Stratford monument", one Marlovian argument says that it is quite reasonable to assume that he is really saying that Time will eventually "solve, resolve or explain" it O. The apparent answer turns out to be "Christofer Marley"—as Marlowe is known to have spelt his own name—who, it says, with Shakespeare's death no longer has a "page" to dish up his wit. Calvin Hoffman, author of The Man Who Was Shakespeare , [55] died in , still absolutely convinced that Marlowe was the true author of Shakespeare's works.

Anxious that the theory should not die with him, he left a substantial sum of money with the King's School, Canterbury —where Marlowe went as a boy—for them to administer an annual essay competition on this subject. The adjudication of the prize, which as of is around nine thousand pounds UK , [57] has always been delegated to an eminent professional Shakespearian scholar and, despite Hoffman's clear intentions, the winning essay has seldom espoused the Marlovian cause, [58] the prize having usually gone to essays along entirely orthodox lines.

A further stipulation of the initial Trust Deed was that:. If in any year the person adjudged to have won the Prize has in the opinion of The King's School furnished irrefutable and incontrovertible proof and evidence required to satisfy the world of Shakespearian scholarship that all the plays and poems now commonly attributed to William Shakespeare were in fact written by Christopher Marlowe then the amount of the Prize for that year shall be increased by assigning to the winner absolutely one half of the capital or corpus of the entire Trust Fund Apart from the stories by Zeigler and Watterson, others have used Marlovian theory as an inspiration for fiction as well.

It portrays Marlowe as being the true author of Shakespeare's works after staging his own death. The novel is written in verse and won the Desmond Elliott Prize in Ben Elton 's sitcom Upstart Crow inverts the Marlovian theory. In the series, Shakespeare is persuaded to write plays for Marlowe including Doctor Faustus , Tamburlaine and The Jew of Malta in order to maintain Marlowe's cover as a playwright. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


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  • This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. October Learn how and when to remove this template message. Christopher Marlowe in fiction. Much depended upon a fresh attitude to creativity itself, and it was Marlowe who most encouraged Shakespeare to bring stateliness and a high poetic habit to the drama.

    Murphy Murphy proposed that some Shakespeare plays were co-authorships between Marlowe and his friend, humorist Thomas Nashe. See also Rosalind Barber's lecture on her doctoral research, Rethinking Shakespeare , published by the University of Sussex. Nicholl , pp. Only Downie , pp. Charges of atheism and heresy against him filled the air at this time; or rather, they filled certain sheets of paper. For a discussion of how such approaches have changed over time, see Pinksen , pp. New Evidence Wraight The King's School, Canterbury.

    Retrieved 22 February Retrieved 25 July Ros Barber's novel-in-verse, The Marlowe Papers , in Retrieved 27 September — via www. Retrieved 25 September — via www. Retrieved 22 July The Tragicall History of Christopher Marlowe 2 vols. Rather than postulate a new approach after the end of theory, Kastan--deeply committed to materialist thought and method--redefines the ends and means by which theory can more effectively serve the study of literary and theater history. In this view, theory per se is not "bad"; it is not "sucking the life from common sense, intelligibility, and objectivity," and, of course, it "cannot be held responsible for the demise of literature" That the conservative critique of theory "is, for the most part, disingenuous and inaccurate," however, must no longer obscure the fact that "another critique of theory is possible and indeed necessary at this time" Such a critique aims at theory's imperial, somehow idealistic project to "offer convincing alternatives" to the "necessary specification of [what Louis Montrose calls] 'the processes by which meaning and value are produced and grounded'" in social and cultural [End Page ] history What is wanted, then, is not history without theory but its Aufhebung , its suspension in and by a renewed primary attention to historical text and circumstance.

    The volume is arranged in three major sections.

    Shakespeare after Theory - VoegelinView

    The first and shortest, "Demanding History" , serves as a prospectus addressing crucial questions of method and approach in the critical paradigm that is most articulate in today's Shakespeare studies. Pointing at the precariousness, or the absence, of the concept of Shakespearean authorship, Kastan invokes multiple "histories and significations that in fact extend beyond the text's verbal structure" Historical scholarship "at once disperses and reconstitutes Shakespeare, revealing him to be something more than a product of the text and something less than its exclusive producer" In this admirably balanced reconsideration, authorship in the Elizabethan theater is restored to both its enabling and its inhibiting conditions.

    The second section, "The Text in History" , assembles three studies that reexamine the transmission of the plays, through print and editing, under the circumstances of their mediation and reception, including a case study of the "reformed" text of 1 Henry IV. Although too brief to offer a perfectly sustained summa of the vast field in question, this section absorbingly conveys why in these times editing has become "a hot topic arguably the hot topic in Shakespeare studies to debate" As against the lingering notion, upheld by the Oxford editors, that Shakespeare's text suffers from corruption, even "is diseased," 1 Kastan unravels the questionable premises on which Shakespeare editors for so long have postulated, at least by implication, an untainted original.

    According to the traditional procedure, "the manuscript is reconstructed or, more accurately, imagined by reference to an imperfect printed text whose imperfections are discovered in relation to the hypothesized manuscript" As against the morally tinged notion of "corruption" or "disease," Kastan soundly recalls that "plays as written are rarely identical with plays as If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click 'Authenticate'.

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