‘Look, look, master, here comes two religious caterpillars.’

The above is the best line, in my opinion, in Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, and the first of two things I am shoehorning into this post simply because I like them and they are kind-of relevant.

I once read an interview with Guillermo del Toro about film criticism, in which he said it shouldn’t be about whether the critic liked it or not, but about the degree to which it achieved its aims. I suppose this is obvious, and the basis for all constructive, considered reviews, but those are not generally my strong point. If I could express myself in gifs all day I would, but the aim of the book something I had in mind while reading The World of Christopher Marlowe. 

To be honest, I showed up for the seedy playwright tales, the murder and the spycraft, and this book does include these elements, but is also a comprehensive guide to the country at the time and the possible social and educational experiences of Marlowe. Ultimately, we don’t know a whole lot about him personally, but the scholarship opportunities that were open to a tradesmen’s son, such as he was, and the political conditions of the time are far better documented. Not just the financial details the hideous structure of their 18-hour university study days (ouch) but the book also book has explanatory lines about verse such as

Once again, the mismatch occurs in a polysyllabic word that takes trochaic stress on the first syllable.

Yikes. As informative as this is, get to the covert missions and pub brawling! Which I concede is absolutely an issue with me and not the book, and why I have now ordered The ReckoningThe Murder of Christopher Marlowe

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However, there’s lots of political detail about Lizzie the first, plots against her life and her ministers that I did enjoy, and why I have now also ordered –

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The World of Christopher Marlowe would also be great for a drinking game of all the previous schools I went to and their houses. Many Catholic schools are named after martyrs who met their ends during and after the reformation, and and heads of the famous Catholic houses. Every other page featured a mention of Cuthbert, Philip Howard, etc. And although it’s nothing to do with the man, Walsingham was also a school house, at the one place I went to where the houses were based on sites of miracles. I wanted to be Walsingham as it sounded like a town where everyone danced and the house colour was green, instead, I was in Fatima, a house plagued by fat jokes and a immutable, ‘McDonald’s’ red.

My favourite portrayal of Francis Walsingham turns up in the excellent Bill, the film with all the older cast of Horrible Histories, where he utilizes pies for his clandestine meetings with Marlowe. This is the second thing I am happy to have a reason to use.

 

The World of Christopher Marlowe is what it says it is, a comprehensive view of the kind of life Christopher most likely had, the people he knew, the theatre of his time, his position in society and the condition of the country. If there were academic elements that I didn’t always enjoy, that’s just down to me essentially being a teeny bit, well…see below…

Monday

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