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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Anonymous said...

These interviews with Sam are great.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

some things to really think about . . .