Saturday, May 31, 2008

A few words with Samuel Blumenfeld, author of The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection, cont.

Q: What were some of the clues you found that Marlowe had inserted in the plays to indicate that he was the author?

Sam: There are several wonderful clues in Hamlet, for example. I’ll just give you one. You know, of course, the scene in Act II, scene ii, where Hamlet welcomes the troupe of thespians who will act out a play showing how his uncle the king murdered his father. He asks the actors for a sample of their work. They ask what would he like to hear. He says:

I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted, or if it was, not above once, for the play, I remember, pleased not the million; ‘twas caviary to the general: but it was—as I received it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in top of mine—an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning.

What an exquisite review Marlowe gives his own play, Dido: Queen of Carthage. Hamlet then says:

One speech in’t I chiefly loved. ‘Twas Aeneas’ tale to Dido, and thereabout of it especially where he speaks of Priam’s slaughter. If it live in your memory, begin at this line—let me see, let me see:

And so Hamlet continues, after which the actor proceeds to deliver an emotive monologue paraphrasing Marlowe’s own play. To my mind that was Marlowe’s way of saying, “I wrote Hamlet and Dido.”

So there is much in my book that is new.

Q: Was Marlowe a prodigy? Give us a sense of how bright he was.

Sam: You have to read all of Marlowe’s plays and poems as well as the 36 plays in the First Folio in order to get the full impact of this man’s genius. He was undoubtedly a child prodigy, and that is why his father did not even expect his son to become a cobbler like himself. I believe that at age 8, Christopher became a page to Philip Sidney, a young nobleman about to embark on his two-year tour of the Continent. He stayed with Sidney until the age of 14 when he entered the King’s School on a scholarship. From there he went on to Cambridge University where he got the best education England could provide. Because of his intelligence he was recruited into Queen Elizabeth’s Secret Service by Sir Francis Walsingham and Lord Burghley. Thus, his talents were known by the highest persons in Elizabeth’s government.

Q: Sam, what do you say to those who adamantly insist that Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon is the author of the plays?

Sam: I tell them to read my book and answer all of the questions it raises. I will not only have to contend with the Stratfordians but also the Oxfordians who have virtually dominated the authorship debate for the last few decades. But I believe that all of that will change when my book is read and digested and it becomes obvious that the only person who could have written those great plays and poems was Christopher Marlowe.

© The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection, May 2008

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Anonymous said...

carlo, the blog looks great. how about calling "NOTA BENE" "(DI)NOTA BENE"?

Anonymous said...

This is intriguing. Keep the blog going!

Anonymous said...

I'm getting the book!

Eric said...

Excellent and provocative! Looking forward to reading more!

Craig said...

I've always thought of that passage in Hamlet as a touching tribute by Shakespeare to his dead friend, someone he admired and missed.

I don't actually think the speech in Hamlet is as good as the one in Dido, which is surprisingly plain-spoken and humanizing.

What an ego we would have to give Marlowe to make him praise his earlier play like that! And why wouldn't he have just quoted "his" earlier play directly, instead of writing a brand-new speech for Hamlet? No, the Hamlet speech is plainly a Shakespearean tribute, written in the Marlovian vein.