Sunday, February 8, 2009
We caught up with veteran Marlovian researcher Isabel Gortázar, whose exceptional work has appeared in the Marlowe Society Newsletter and Marlowe Society Research Journal. After a lifetime in publishing, Isabel is now attempting to retire from business in order to spend more time researching the Marlowe-Shakespeare connection. Isabel shares her time between Spain and England.
Q: Isabel, your 2004 article, "The Clue in The Shrew" (Research Journal, Dec. 04), which you have recently revised and is now available in the Marlowe Society Research Journal (Vol. 6, 2009), presents a fascinating examination of The Taming of the Shrew's rather unusual Induction scene. Your brilliant exegesis makes a most compelling case that the Deptford incident, or "farce" as you call it, is strongly alluded to in the prelude, which you see as a kind of riddle containing clues about Marlowe's staged death on May 30, 1593. What triggered this reading of The Shrew for you, Isabel?
Isabel: I have great difficulty in accepting that any work of art by a major artist may be seriously flawed. In my experience, every time you come across a work of art that seems to be illogical or unfinished, all you need to do is to allow yourself an exercise in lateral thinking. This has never failed me so far. For example, Mozart has one allegedly “flawed” major opera, The Magic Flute, but there is nothing flawed about The Flute; all you need is to ask yourself the right questions. This is just one example of many.
When I re-read The Shrew by chance, previous to attending a performance in Stratford, I realized I was up against one of these “flawed” masterpieces; clearly the Induction made no sense, so lateral thinking was required. I knew there was an answer somewhere waiting to be found and, frankly, I was shocked by the absurdities that the critics of all times have offered as explanations for the “unfinished” Induction and the “disappearance” of Christopher Sly.
In these cases, my habit is to strip the – apparently - nonsensical part to its bare essentials. In this case: A man called Christopher Sly, after a quarrel with a Hostess in a Tavern over a bill is left in a ditch appearing to be dead. But Christopher is not dead at all; he is rescued by a Lord and his Servants, and invited to dine and watch a “comedy”. While this comedy is being performed and our attention distracted, Christopher Sly disappears and is never heard of again.
Once you focus on this abridged and simplified reading of the Induction, provided of course you are prepared both to question the authorship of William Shakespeare and the possibility that Marlowe did not die in Deptford, the so-called flaw disappears and the message of the farcical Induction becomes crystal clear.
After hitting on the basic message, it has taken me years to get to the bottom of the clues, and I am sure I am still missing something. In that respect, the recently revised version (2008) includes a few fascinating clues that I had not found four years ago.
© The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection, February 2009
Isabel Gortázar can be reached at email@example.com
Editor's note: Click here for an excellent article by Isabel on the authorship issue, originally printed in the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia de Barcelona and now available online at the Spanish website radical.es.
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Posted by CARLO D. at 12:00 AM