History of Literature #114 – Christopher Marlowe – What Happened and What If?

marlowe

In 1921, T.S. Eliot wrote, “When Shakespeare borrowed from him, which was pretty often at the beginning, Shakespeare either made something inferior or something different.” He was talking about Shakespeare’s near-contemporary Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), whose literary career was cut short by his murder at the age of 29, though not before he established himself as one of the most accomplished and innovative poets who ever lived. A scholar, a spy, a poet, a tragedian, a counterfeiter, an influencer of Shakespeare – wrestling with Marlowe’s interests and ambiguities could fill a hundred novels. Theories have long abounded: was his death ordered by the Crown? Or perhaps it was staged – paving the way for Marlowe, in hiding, to continue to write plays under the name William Shakespeare. But assuming that he did die in that tavern brawl, the questions are no less appealing: what would he have done, had he lived? How might he have continued to influence Shakespeare – and how might Shakespeare have influenced him? Host Jacke Wilson takes a look at the life and works of the extraordinary Christopher Marlowe.

Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

Terrible Poem Breakdown: An Apologia (and What They Knew #16-24)

Yesterday we started the new series Terrible Poem Breakdown, in which I criticized a Terrible Poem primarily for its negativity. I’ve had it pointed out to me that this may be somewhat hypocritical, coming from me. This blog has not exactly been moondreams and rainbows.

Readers, I’ve been trying to be encouraging! And yet I have conveyed some very bleak thoughts indeed, especially in the What They Knew series. But isn’t that just being real? There’s a fine line between a pessimist and a realist! Sometimes no line at all!

So in the holiday spirit, I’m going to run through the entire next batch of What They Knews. I will look at each of them, examine them for signs of negativity, and assess whether they should be released upon the world or whether they should be buried in my What They Knew Discard vault.

And along the way, I hope to get a better sense of myself. Me, Jacke Wilson, clear-eyed purveyor of uplifting sentiment…  Continue reading