Monday, August 25, 2008

On Marlowe's exile clues in Shakespeare: a question for Samuel Blumenfeld, author of The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection

Q: Sam, the blog recently posted a few sonnets attributed to Shakespeare that demonstrate the exile motif. I know you explain in your book that the motifs of exile, banishment, etc. found in the sonnets and the plays are just some of the intriguing clues that point to Marlowe as the true author of the Shakespeare canon. Please shed some light on the subject here for our blog readers.

Sam: Carlo, the themes of exile and banishment, the use of disguises, faked deaths, and mistaken identities can be found in Richard II, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, King Lear, Coriolanus, The Winter’s Tale, All’s Well That Ends Well, and Cymbeline.

There are faked deaths and resurrections in Romeo and Juliet, The Winter’s Tale, Much Ado About Nothing, and All’s Well That Ends Well.

Obviously, Marlowe, who was forced to live in exile and banishment and whose death was faked (ed. note: see 7/7 post on Marlowe's death), could write about all of this from experience. He also, no doubt, used disguises to hide his identity. We believe that he used the name Thomas Shelton for his translation of Don Quixote, which was published by his executor Ed Blount. (ed. note: see 6/7 Blount post)

When Mowbury, in Richard II, is sent into exile, he laments:

A heavy sentence, my most sovereign liege,
And all unlook’d for from your highness’ mouth….
The language I have learnt these forty years,
My native English, now I must forgo;…
Within my mouth you have enjail’d my tongue….
What is thy sentence then but speechless death,
Which robs my tongue from breathing native breath?

We can imagine that these were Marlowe’s own thoughts when he went into exile after the events in Deptford. And when he was aboard ship on his way to France, he no doubt suffered the same feelings expressed by Bullingbrooke when he too was sent into exile:

Then, England’s ground, farewell; sweet soil adieu,
My mother, and my nurse, that bears me yet.
Where ere I wander, boast of this I can,
Though banished, yet a trueborn Englishman.

As for faked deaths, the most graphic instance of one is in Much Ado About Nothing, in which Hero is persuaded by the Friar to pretend to die in order to gain the sympathy of the man who had jilted her at their wedding. The Friar says: “Come Lady, die to live.” And the ruse works.

“Die to live” was the simple and obvious rationale behind Marlowe’s faked death at Deptford.

© The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection, August 2008 Sam Riley Deptford
Samuel Blumenfeld, a World War II veteran of the Italian campaign, has authored more than ten books. His latest, The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection: A New Study of the Authorship Question, was published by McFarland. He is a former editor in the New York book publishing industry and has lectured widely on a diverse range of subjects. He is a regular contributor to MSC.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Framing Marlowe: The Dutch Church Libel

As Samuel Blumenfeld clarifies in his latest book, The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection: A New Study of the Authorship Question, "The specific event that led to the unforeseen dangerous consequences for Marlowe [i.e., his arrest] was the Dutch Church Libel [of May 1593], the nailing of a 53-line doggerel poem on the wall of the Dutch churchyard in Broad Street. It threatened the Dutch immigrants living in London with harm and violence if they did not leave." The libel was written in iambic pentameter (a meter Marlowe knew very well, of course, employing it in his pioneering blank verse), was signed "Tamburlaine" (the title of Marlowe's first successful play), and contained references to Marlowe's plays. As Blumenfeld is careful to remind us, the libel must be considered in light of the rivalry between the Earl of Essex and Sir Walter Ralegh (a friend of Marlowe), who were in serious competition for Queen Elizabeth's favor. Blumenfeld postulates that Essex had his hands in framing Marlowe, and in so doing, framing his nemesis Ralegh: since Ralegh favored the expulsion of resident aliens (while the Queen did not), a libel allegedly written by Marlowe would thus discredit his pal Ralegh, as well, and would pave the way for an investigation of Ralegh's atheism (and his "School of Night" circle) by Whitgift's Privy Council (see 7/14 Penry post). "In fact," writes Blumenfeld, "Marlowe's reputation as an atheist and blasphemer stems from reports about the goings on among" Ralegh's intellectual coterie. Blumenfeld also concurs with Charles Nicholl, who in The Reckoning argues that the libel was probably written by one of Essex's servants.

Let's further keep in mind that Francis Bacon had allied himself with Essex by now in order to advance in Elizabeth's government, which placed him in natural competition with Lord Burghley's son Robert Cecil. According to Lisa Jardine and Alan Stewart, in their Hostage to Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon, "Bacon's prospects were obstructed throughout his career by Sir Robert Cecil." Also, with the death of spymaster Francis Walsingham (see 6/19 Walsingham post), Essex and Francis Bacon were creating their own spy network to rival the Cecils (see 6/23 Cecil post). Thus, the Cecils had to be thinking that any charges brought against their spy operative Marlowe (and erstwhile Walsingham operative Ralegh) would also discredit them.

Get to Marlowe to get to Ralegh, and discredit the Cecils, too.

© The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection, August 2008

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Allusionary Play: Hemingway from Shakespeare, Shakespeare from Marlowe

In Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” when the virile safari guide Wilson quotes a passage from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part II -- “By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death” (3.2.109) -- Marlowe’s Edward II (written around seven years before Henry IV, Part II) also comes to mind, as Edward states to Berkeley, “. . . of this am I assured: / That death ends all, and I can die but once” (5.1.152-153).

Perhaps Marlowe, who was very well-versed in Scripture, was inspired by Hebrews 9:27: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die . . .”

Of course, I believe Marlowe most likely wrote the Shakespeare plays anyway. Read Edward II, for example, and you’ll see “Shakespeare" everywhere. Regardless, tracing allusions is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

© The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection, August 2008

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Leonardo Da Vinci's Brilliance

Click above for a nice piece from Investor's Business Daily.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

First Folio Reappears Ten Years After Library Theft!

Click above link for video, courtesy of Breitbart TV/Fox News.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Shakespeare Authorship Debate, 2007: Stanley Wells vs. Mark Rylance

Click here to read a 2007 debate between Mark Rylance, one of the world’s leading Shakespearean actors, and Professor Stanley Wells, one of the world’s leading Shakespearean scholars. While you’re at the site, sign “The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare,” sponsored by the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition.

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