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Doctor Faustus and Other Plays

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Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), a man of extreme passions and a playwright of immense talent, is the most important of Shakespeare's contemporaries. This edition offers his five major plays, which show the radicalism and vitality of his writing in the few years before his violent death. Tamburlaine Part One and Part Two deal with the rise to world prominence of the great Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), a man of extreme passions and a playwright of immense talent, is the most important of Shakespeare's contemporaries. This edition offers his five major plays, which show the radicalism and vitality of his writing in the few years before his violent death. Tamburlaine Part One and Part Two deal with the rise to world prominence of the great Scythian shepherd-robber; The Jew of Malta is a drama of villainy and revenge; Edward II was to influence Shakespeare's Richard II. Doctor Faustus, perhaps the first drama taken from the medieval legend of a man who sells his soul to the devil, is here in both its A- and its B- text, showing the enormous and fascinating differences between the two. Under the General Editorship of Dr. Michael Cordner of the University of York, the texts of the plays have been newly edited and are presented with modernized spelling and punctuation. In addition, there is a scholarly introduction and detailed annotation.


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Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), a man of extreme passions and a playwright of immense talent, is the most important of Shakespeare's contemporaries. This edition offers his five major plays, which show the radicalism and vitality of his writing in the few years before his violent death. Tamburlaine Part One and Part Two deal with the rise to world prominence of the great Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), a man of extreme passions and a playwright of immense talent, is the most important of Shakespeare's contemporaries. This edition offers his five major plays, which show the radicalism and vitality of his writing in the few years before his violent death. Tamburlaine Part One and Part Two deal with the rise to world prominence of the great Scythian shepherd-robber; The Jew of Malta is a drama of villainy and revenge; Edward II was to influence Shakespeare's Richard II. Doctor Faustus, perhaps the first drama taken from the medieval legend of a man who sells his soul to the devil, is here in both its A- and its B- text, showing the enormous and fascinating differences between the two. Under the General Editorship of Dr. Michael Cordner of the University of York, the texts of the plays have been newly edited and are presented with modernized spelling and punctuation. In addition, there is a scholarly introduction and detailed annotation.

30 review for Doctor Faustus and Other Plays

  1. 4 out of 5

    John Hughes

    All who read Shakespeare should read Marlowe - in a sense more biting, with a darker interpretation of the human condition. He is the birth of Elizabethan theatre, and hence a man more enveloped by lingering medievalism than his more famous counterpart. From Tamburlaine’s unconquerable appetite for conquering, to a Dr Faustus dismissive of hell being hence dismissed by heaven, to King Edward II’s infamous demise, Marlowe finds a fitting and tragic fate for his protagonists who are the beaters for All who read Shakespeare should read Marlowe - in a sense more biting, with a darker interpretation of the human condition. He is the birth of Elizabethan theatre, and hence a man more enveloped by lingering medievalism than his more famous counterpart. From Tamburlaine’s unconquerable appetite for conquering, to a Dr Faustus dismissive of hell being hence dismissed by heaven, to King Edward II’s infamous demise, Marlowe finds a fitting and tragic fate for his protagonists who are the beaters for their own ruinous. Marlowe’s tales and characters stand out. They erupt from page to stage with incredible energy. An Ovidian scholar whose place in the great achievements of English stagecraft should not be forgotten. He burnt life’s candle at both ends, and his short career is fitting for the man who wrote the following lines: “Now, Mephistopheles, the restless course That time doth run with calm and silent foot, Short’ning my days and thread of vital life, Calls for payment of my latest years” -Faustus, Dr Faustus, Act 4 Scene I

  2. 4 out of 5

    maddie

    I've only read Doctor Faustus from Marlowe but aside from a stupid essay I had to write I quite enjoyed it. I've only read Doctor Faustus from Marlowe but aside from a stupid essay I had to write I quite enjoyed it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    I started the new year vowing to read more from Philip Ward’s list of 500 books, and with Marlowe and Ariosto I'm off to a great start. (The three political philosophy classics that I chose are going a lot more slowly.) Powerful writing. I would love to see some of these staged. Right away you are hurled into Tambulaine’s ‘mighty lines’ vaunting his power in phenomenal language. (Tamburlaine has been offered a ransom for the captured princess Zenocrate, who begs to be let go to marry her betrothe I started the new year vowing to read more from Philip Ward’s list of 500 books, and with Marlowe and Ariosto I'm off to a great start. (The three political philosophy classics that I chose are going a lot more slowly.) Powerful writing. I would love to see some of these staged. Right away you are hurled into Tambulaine’s ‘mighty lines’ vaunting his power in phenomenal language. (Tamburlaine has been offered a ransom for the captured princess Zenocrate, who begs to be let go to marry her betrothed. He, smitten, replies:) Disdains Zenocrate to live with me? Or you, my lords, to be my followers? Think you I weigh this treasure more than you? Not all the gold in India's wealthy arms Shall buy the meanest soldier in my train. Zenocrate, lovelier than the love of Jove, Brighter than is the silver Rhodope, Fairer than whitest snow on Scythian hills, Thy person is more worth to Tamburlaine Than the possession of the Persian crown, Which gracious stars have promis'd at my birth. A hundred Tartars shall attend on thee, Mounted on steeds swifter than Pegasus; Thy garments shall be made of Median silk, Enchas'd with precious jewels of mine own, More rich and valurous than Zenocrate's; With milk-white harts upon an ivory sled Thou shalt be drawn amidst the frozen pools, And scale the icy mountains' lofty tops, Which with thy beauty will be soon resolv'd: My martial prizes, with five hundred men, Won on the fifty-headed Volga's waves, Shall we all offer to Zenocrate, And then myself to fair Zenocrate. That’s the loving side of Tamburlaine. Here’s the tyrant headed off to war Now will we banquet on these plains a while, And after march to Turkey with our camp, In number more than are the drops that fall When Boreas rents a thousand swelling clouds; And proud Orcanes of Natolia With all his viceroys shall be so afraid, That, though the stones, as at Deucalion's flood, Were turn'd to men, he should be overcome. Such lavish will I make of Turkish blood, That Jove shall send his winged messenger To bid me sheathe my sword and leave the field; The sun, unable to sustain the sight, Shall hide his head in Thetis' watery lap, And leave his steeds to fair Bootes' charge; For half the world shall perish in this fight. And condemning the city where his beloved died: So burn the turrets of this cursed town, Flame to the highest region of the air, And kindle heaps of exhalations, That, being fiery meteors, may presage Death and destruction to the inhabitants! Over my zenith hang a blazing star, That may endure till heaven be dissolv'd, Fed with the fresh supply of earthly dregs, Threatening a dearth and famine to this land! Flying dragons, lightning, fearful thunder-claps, Singe these fair plains, and make them seem as black As is the island where the Furies mask, Compass'd with Lethe, Styx, and Phlegethon, Because my dear Zenocrate is dead! I also enjoyed seeing the variety of his subjects in these plays, amidst the common theme of treating taboo subjects in unconventional ways. I also liked seeing the growth of the playwright over five years. Reading the plays together emphasizes the progression from marching speakers off and on the stage to deliver great speeches in Tamburlaine, to the development of relationships and characters that permeate Edward II. (Admittedly, the dating of the later plays is apparently in question, but the difference is perceptible.) I was reading Shakespeare’s history plays last fall and the influence seems clear not only in subject (e.g. Richard II) but very much in structure and content. Amazing that they were born in the same year.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gerasimos Reads

    Only read Edward II. It wasn't the best play I have ever read but it's certainly not the worst either. I guess it's a bit difficult to get excited about medieval plays. Only read Edward II. It wasn't the best play I have ever read but it's certainly not the worst either. I guess it's a bit difficult to get excited about medieval plays.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eleni Charalambous

    Although a highly regarded classic, I found Doctor Faustus tedious and tiring to read. It took me several reads to fully comprehend each scene, trying to fully concentrate on what they were saying. Although I can see how it ties in to my course "The Tragedy of Knowledge", Doctor Faustus has to do too much with religion for my liking - in a sense, as if it is vilifying true knowledge, or rather knowledge against the doctrines of the Church. I would like to think he's just taking the piss on the w Although a highly regarded classic, I found Doctor Faustus tedious and tiring to read. It took me several reads to fully comprehend each scene, trying to fully concentrate on what they were saying. Although I can see how it ties in to my course "The Tragedy of Knowledge", Doctor Faustus has to do too much with religion for my liking - in a sense, as if it is vilifying true knowledge, or rather knowledge against the doctrines of the Church. I would like to think he's just taking the piss on the whole "you will be punished blah blah blah knowledge is the Devil's temptation and it is forbidden because it will condemn your immortal soul blah blah blah". Not to say that religion and faith is something bad, but the authority of the Church, or any power that, in a sense, controls religion is oftentimes corrupt. Just to think of how many books were "banned", how much knowledge has been denied to people because the Church decided it was a threat to their power makes me shudder.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Heiner

    Marlowe very much deserves to be read on his own merits, but today it's very hard for readers to come to his plays while ignoring that he was a contemporary of Shakespeare. In the case of the Jew of Malta, one of the plays in this collection, the overlaps with The Merchant of Venice are powerful and worth examining: the other living in a foreign land with those who hold him to a standard they don't keep themselves. Marlowe's characters don't develop. They simply arc across a trajectory, and the p Marlowe very much deserves to be read on his own merits, but today it's very hard for readers to come to his plays while ignoring that he was a contemporary of Shakespeare. In the case of the Jew of Malta, one of the plays in this collection, the overlaps with The Merchant of Venice are powerful and worth examining: the other living in a foreign land with those who hold him to a standard they don't keep themselves. Marlowe's characters don't develop. They simply arc across a trajectory, and the plays capture this trajectory for us with scenes and stage direction that surely must have thrilled in its time. One way to think about Marlowe? Long speeches punctuated by dialogues and action, whereas in Shakespeare long speeches tend to punctuate fast-moving scenes and snappy dialogue. There is humor here and there in Marlowe, but it is often dark. This edition comes with a helpful introduction and almost a hundred pages of endnotes, which are very useful for helping digest the highly allusive speeches of Marlowe's characters. Tamburlaine the Great, Parts I and II: similar to Othello in his warlike manner, but unlike Othello in his world-vaunting ambition. "Our souls, whose faculties can comprehend The wondrous architecture of the world And measure every wand'ring planet's course, Still climbing after knowledge infinite And always moving as the restless spheres, Wills us to wear ourselves and never rest Until we reach the ripest fruit of all, That perfect bliss and sole felicity, The sweet fruition of an earthly crown." 2.7.20-29 (p. 28) "I fare, my lord, as other empresses, that, when this frail and transitory flesh Hath sucked the measure of that vital air That feeds the body with his dated health, Wanes with enforced and necessary change." 2.4.42-46 (p. 91) "Blood is the gore of war's rich livery." 3.2.116 (p. 99) The Jew of Malta: Barabas is Shylock's older, meaner, more spiteful brother. He is, in a certain way, evil personified, much like Iago in Othello. "We'll send thee bullets wrapped in smoke and fire. Claim tribute where thou wilt, we are resolved; Honour is bought with blood and not with gold." 2.3.54-56 (p. 273) "As for myself, I walk abroad a-nights And kill sick people groaning under walls; Sometimes I go about and poison wells;" 2.3.175-177 (p. 278) "Are there not Jews enough in Malta But thou must dote upon a Christian?" 2.3.361-362 (p. 283)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dana ♡

    For some reason, reading plays has really helped with my concentration during lockdown so after enjoying some Shakespeare, I thought I'd actually get round to reading some of the other classic plays I had on my shelves. First up is Christopher Marlowe! I studied Edward II no less than THREE times at uni but the rest of the plays in this compendium were all unread. Doctor Faustus was quite fun but there wasn't much of a plot and the character development was all abrupt. Tamburlaine the Great Part For some reason, reading plays has really helped with my concentration during lockdown so after enjoying some Shakespeare, I thought I'd actually get round to reading some of the other classic plays I had on my shelves. First up is Christopher Marlowe! I studied Edward II no less than THREE times at uni but the rest of the plays in this compendium were all unread. Doctor Faustus was quite fun but there wasn't much of a plot and the character development was all abrupt. Tamburlaine the Great Part One was not especially great, and features my fave trope of women who are kidnapped by tyrants and immediately fall in love with them, à la Pamela. Lots of fun. This was basically just about lots of battles, although I did really like some of the language. I liked Part Two even less, because it was basically Part One but without the novelty. I actually liked the Jew of Malta the best of all: it does a very interesting thing of both overtly showing the persecution of the Jews whilst being anti-Semitic at the same time, but then every single character in this is a bit of a dick so I'm not sure how much the anti-Semitism was just your average casual Elizabethan racism and how much was real ingrained prejudice against Jews. If that makes sense. On a literary level, I found the plot to be the most interesting and engaging of all of the plays I've recently read, and I really liked the writing in this one too: as someone who likes poetry and verse, I found there was just the right combination of prosaic and lyrical. Excited to have finished Marlowe, and a bit nervous about moving onto my next neglected playwright: Ben Jonson! I read Bartholomew Fair at uni and disliked it, but I've owned the plays for ages so I feel it's worth giving them a go.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Polley

    This is really not the most exciting collection of plays. Tamburlaine the Great, Part 1 - this is a play basically about war with racist overtones. Tamburlaine goes around invading everyone and winning. Not really my thing. Tamburlaine the Great, Part II - apparently Part 1 was so well received that they made a Part 2. In this, Tamburlaine's wife dies and then eventually so does Tamburlaine. He also murders his son. Doctor Faustus, A & B texts - two different versions of this play are included but This is really not the most exciting collection of plays. Tamburlaine the Great, Part 1 - this is a play basically about war with racist overtones. Tamburlaine goes around invading everyone and winning. Not really my thing. Tamburlaine the Great, Part II - apparently Part 1 was so well received that they made a Part 2. In this, Tamburlaine's wife dies and then eventually so does Tamburlaine. He also murders his son. Doctor Faustus, A & B texts - two different versions of this play are included but they are very similar so I read the A text and skimmed the B text. Doctor Faustus is studying necromancy and he makes a deal with the devil to get what he wants now but has to trade his soul in the afterlife. The Jew of Malta - a rich Jew has to give up his wealth and then gets his revenge by plotting to murder two people. His daughter converts to Christianity so he murders her and all the nuns as well. He also murders his servant who betrays him and plots with the Turks to overthrow the current government. Edward II - this is definitely the most interesting of all the plays and is basically a historical fiction play. The play is based on Edward's relationship with his favourite male companion and his gruesome end. Would have definitely liked to have seen this portrayed at the time. It is a shame this play is at the back of the collection!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Diem

    I only read Doctor Faustus, A Text. Intriguing. But I had just finished Julius Caesar and my actual impression after reading this was, "Very nice. But, ain't no Shakespeare." And I'm only a recent inductee to the world of Shakespeare fandom . Still, "as good as Shakespeare" is a pretty high bar, so squeaking in just under it still finds you well-ranked on the list of the Western Canon. I'd like to give the other plays a go someday. I only read Doctor Faustus, A Text. Intriguing. But I had just finished Julius Caesar and my actual impression after reading this was, "Very nice. But, ain't no Shakespeare." And I'm only a recent inductee to the world of Shakespeare fandom . Still, "as good as Shakespeare" is a pretty high bar, so squeaking in just under it still finds you well-ranked on the list of the Western Canon. I'd like to give the other plays a go someday.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I'm about to do this book for Eng lit and i have to say i'm definately looking forward to it. I really enjoyed this story and the moral dilemma it proposed. what i liked the best is that Faustus didn't get away with it and went to hell - there's too many happy endings these days. I'm about to do this book for Eng lit and i have to say i'm definately looking forward to it. I really enjoyed this story and the moral dilemma it proposed. what i liked the best is that Faustus didn't get away with it and went to hell - there's too many happy endings these days.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    It’s a classic, right? Something you should read if you’re intending to study the trope of making deals with the devil.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    very enjoyable play!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Read Doctor Faustus’ B-text.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sana

    My actual rating is 2.5 stars, because I thought the play would've been good if I'd put more effort into reading it. It just isn't the time for it right now, with all the exhaustion and burnout that comes with quarantine, which meant I couldn't be bothered to try and understand passages, then googled the plot half way through. Once I knew what was happening, it was easier to read, and I actually laughed at the part where Faustus 'charms everyone dumb' halfway through all their sentences. I'll pr My actual rating is 2.5 stars, because I thought the play would've been good if I'd put more effort into reading it. It just isn't the time for it right now, with all the exhaustion and burnout that comes with quarantine, which meant I couldn't be bothered to try and understand passages, then googled the plot half way through. Once I knew what was happening, it was easier to read, and I actually laughed at the part where Faustus 'charms everyone dumb' halfway through all their sentences. I'll probably read this again in a few months and enjoy it a bit more, because I can understand why people could like this play, but I was really just too tired and unmotivated to read it properly.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Julie Spencer

    Absolutely loved this publication of the story, it was well presented and explained in detail. Quite alot of people in my reading group didn't like it. However, I was totally consumed by it. What does that say about me? I like a bit of a fantasy and would suggest this story be read as such to prevent being unimpressed. It could be considered as a horror, but again, it depends on your own interpretation of what a horror is. It is mind opening. Or so I think. Absolutely loved this publication of the story, it was well presented and explained in detail. Quite alot of people in my reading group didn't like it. However, I was totally consumed by it. What does that say about me? I like a bit of a fantasy and would suggest this story be read as such to prevent being unimpressed. It could be considered as a horror, but again, it depends on your own interpretation of what a horror is. It is mind opening. Or so I think.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Malvina

    Enjoyed discovering his plays, read for a course I'm doing. Interesting to see the cross-over of his work with Shakespeare's. Also enjoying all the conspiracy theories about whether Marlowe did or didn't die in a pub brawl, and is or isn't Shakespeare... Not sure I believe them, but I'm fascinated by the ongoing debates. Enjoyed discovering his plays, read for a course I'm doing. Interesting to see the cross-over of his work with Shakespeare's. Also enjoying all the conspiracy theories about whether Marlowe did or didn't die in a pub brawl, and is or isn't Shakespeare... Not sure I believe them, but I'm fascinated by the ongoing debates.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Musa Shinwari

    a scholar man became a black magician the book gives us many moral lesson in our life just need to implement and learn from it the story shows the inner conflict of every human being to choose between the good or bad

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty McCracken

    I am a Marlowe girl through and through. Dear Lordy have I been missing out!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    Yuck. It may be a classic, but I hated it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    A great collection of plays, Dr Faustus in particular holds a special place in my heart. Such interesting themes and debates arise in all, definitely worth a read whatever genre you’re in search of

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    I honestly found the life of Marlowe to be more interesting than his play and as a lead up to Paradise Lost. Both stories deal with the pursuit of forbidden knowledge which is what I focused my thesis on when reading this work: In the Miller’s Tale, Nicholas is a literate man; he can write and read, and so he has access to knowledge that someone like the carpenter does not have. In short learning has moved on from being an oral tradition, such as in Beowulf, or Marie de France reading her lais to I honestly found the life of Marlowe to be more interesting than his play and as a lead up to Paradise Lost. Both stories deal with the pursuit of forbidden knowledge which is what I focused my thesis on when reading this work: In the Miller’s Tale, Nicholas is a literate man; he can write and read, and so he has access to knowledge that someone like the carpenter does not have. In short learning has moved on from being an oral tradition, such as in Beowulf, or Marie de France reading her lais to a baronial court or the pilgrims in Chaucer's tales passing the time with each other telling their various stories, and can now be found written down in a book whose barrier to entry is the ability to read. This literacy, coupled with more and more people moving to the cities to find work, work that required an education, institutions arose to train young people, like Nicholas, in the required curriculum of the day. And so no longer was the bible the only book that contained what you needed to get along in the world. The bible may contain the providential word of God, but it could not teach you much about law, logic, or how to be a doctor. Yet just as conservative religion had grown out of the teachings found in the bible, an orthodox curriculum of the new secular knowledge, a new providence, had arisen. But what exactly was in these books? According to Faustus, “O, what a world of profit and delight, / Of power, of honour, of omnipotence / Is promised to the studious artisan!” (Marlowe A1.1:55) can be found in books, but not just any books, but rather “necromantic books,” (Marlowe A1.1:53), and anything containing not the boring orthodoxy of the standard curriculum but which, “try thy brains to gain a deity,” (Marlowe A1.1:65). Faustus is not interested in being a clerk, he wants to be a 16th century Oppenheimer and unlock the mysteries of the universe and he is willing to dig, like Beowulf looking for a dragon’s horde, to find, “all the wealth that our forefathers hid / Within the massy entrails of the earth,” (Marlowe A1.1:148). Not surprisingly this quest for knowledge has its consequences in that Faustus eventually must relinquish his immortal soul to Lucifer, but it also reveals a shift in literature from the medieval and into a (early) modern world of science and rationalism. In one scene Faustus tells Lucifer that he believes, “hell’s a fable,” but to which Lucifer replies, “Ay, think so still, till experience change thy mind,” (Marlowe A2.1:127). This focus on experience is important because it contrasts with a world view consisting of authority coming from the revealed word of God. God’s authority is being challenged by the possibility of the forbidden knowledge of experience in the hopes of gaining a power that could perhaps make oneself a God. But this choice between authority and experience also gives rise to doubt because now what is someone to believe? Who really has authority? Our author, Marlowe, was born a generation after Martin Luther challenged the church's authority and so now people have the freedom to choose between letting the church tell them how to find salvation or to try and figure it out for themselves. Yet what are the real consequences to all this freedom?

  22. 5 out of 5

    a.d. nox

    when will i stop vomiting over british literature—i hate everything that’s not shakespeare:// 1984 was ew and beowulf triple ew gawain was vomit idk this one was okayish but still boring af i liked the devil bit shrug

  23. 4 out of 5

    William Schram

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Christopher Marlowe was an interesting guy if his plays reflect anything about him. Tamburlaine is about a Scythian Shepherd that rules the world through force of arms, but loses eventually due to his own hubris. Apparently God doesn't take kindly to burning Holy books. In the first one he conquers all these places and people turn on each other for little to no reason. Though, for being a shepherd, he sure is well read. He can quote all the classics and everything. He marries the daughter of a su Christopher Marlowe was an interesting guy if his plays reflect anything about him. Tamburlaine is about a Scythian Shepherd that rules the world through force of arms, but loses eventually due to his own hubris. Apparently God doesn't take kindly to burning Holy books. In the first one he conquers all these places and people turn on each other for little to no reason. Though, for being a shepherd, he sure is well read. He can quote all the classics and everything. He marries the daughter of a sultan and they have three kids. Then Tamburlaine dies in the end. Doctor Faustus is a legend about a guy that enters a deal with the devil for worldly pleasures and all of that. The A and B texts are similar, but different in a few cases. They both tell basically the same story. Dr. John Faustus is displeased with the learning of Theology, Physic, Astronomy and Medicine, so he turns to the Black Arts of Necromancy. All these good angels and evil angels come around and try to talk him out of it, but he dies in the end in both. God would have forgiven him if he had repented, but Faustus would not repent. The Jew of Malta is about a Jew from Malta. He's pretty greedy. Pretty sure he has sinister machinations too, but meh. Edward II is about Edward the Second, presumably about Edward III's father. All in all it's a pretty good collection and I do recommend reading it if you want some flawed characters having flaws. It has annotations and other things to help you if you need them, and a discussion in the beginning by the editors I believe.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    Tamburlaine Pt. 1 - 4/5 Tamburlaine Pt. 2 - 2/5 Doctor Faustus - 5/5 The Jew of Malta - 4/5 Edward II - 2/5 Overall- 3.5/5 There's a theory going around stating that Marlowe was actually the author of Shakespeare's plays and poems; that, having to fake his own death due to the allegedly sensitive nature of his job as a spy for the British crown, Christopher Marlowe adopted the alias of William Shakespeare in order to keep his anonymity - they were both born in 1564, but Shakespeare's first published w Tamburlaine Pt. 1 - 4/5 Tamburlaine Pt. 2 - 2/5 Doctor Faustus - 5/5 The Jew of Malta - 4/5 Edward II - 2/5 Overall- 3.5/5 There's a theory going around stating that Marlowe was actually the author of Shakespeare's plays and poems; that, having to fake his own death due to the allegedly sensitive nature of his job as a spy for the British crown, Christopher Marlowe adopted the alias of William Shakespeare in order to keep his anonymity - they were both born in 1564, but Shakespeare's first published work appeared just a few weeks after Marlowe's death. Before reading any of the plays in this book my conspiracy theory senses were tingling hard. But in the end there are just too many stylistic differences between both authors' texts for this to be believable. Yes, of course there are similarities, but then again, they were both writing plays during the Elizabethan period. And, without a shadow of a doubt, Marlowe was an inspiration to Shakespeare in some of his plays; just compare The Jew of Malta to The Merchant of Venice, or Edward II to Richard II. As much as I'd like to believe it, they were most definitely not the same person. But Shakespeare aside, Kit here was a pretty enjoyable read, especially in Dr Faustus and The Jew of Malta. Recommended for fans of old timey drama ripe with classical references. Just make sure to read an annotated edition if you don't have encyclopediac knowledge on ancient greek and roman myths.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    There is a certain lauded Yale scholar named Harold Bloom who says that, "while Marlowe unfolded, Shakespeare developed." Bloom has a history of saying extremely dumb things masquerading as oracular prounouncements, such as "the world after 9-11 is more dangerous", and "Shakespeare's characters are more real than real people". There is no one who makes me more ashamed to appreciate great literature than Harold Bloom, and as is usual, he is completely wrong in the case of Marlowe; if you do not s There is a certain lauded Yale scholar named Harold Bloom who says that, "while Marlowe unfolded, Shakespeare developed." Bloom has a history of saying extremely dumb things masquerading as oracular prounouncements, such as "the world after 9-11 is more dangerous", and "Shakespeare's characters are more real than real people". There is no one who makes me more ashamed to appreciate great literature than Harold Bloom, and as is usual, he is completely wrong in the case of Marlowe; if you do not sense development from Tamburlaine to Edward II, your aesthetic sense is biased to say the least - and that is precisely the case with Bloom, who has made a career of praising Shakespeare to the skies. Anyway, the Jew of Malta and Edward II are masterpieces that equal, in my humble opinion, their Shakesperean counterparts, the Merchant of Venice and Richard II. Marlowe has all of the ingredients which make Shakespeare superlative, and it can only be assumed that he indeed would have developed into as great a playwright as the Bard if he had lived, all petulant calumnies aside.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    I have given this 3 stars, mainly because of the Jew of Malta, which I enjoyed very much, it did worry me somewhat all the innuendo between the monks and the nuns, but I guess it shows that even the most chaste of people cannot ignore their animal instincts. From the other plays in this collection, I enjoyed Doctor Faustus and Edward II. I really did not have a clue what was going on in Tamberlaine (in either parts), but one thng I was left with was the unsettling feeling that being loyal was no I have given this 3 stars, mainly because of the Jew of Malta, which I enjoyed very much, it did worry me somewhat all the innuendo between the monks and the nuns, but I guess it shows that even the most chaste of people cannot ignore their animal instincts. From the other plays in this collection, I enjoyed Doctor Faustus and Edward II. I really did not have a clue what was going on in Tamberlaine (in either parts), but one thng I was left with was the unsettling feeling that being loyal was not a quality many of the characters possessed (or maybe they were just possessed!!). I am pleased that I have finally read some Marlowe (thanks Rachel) and can be safe in the knowledge that should I ever be in a situation where I am asked to comment (dinner parties, literary reviews - you never know), I can confidently compare his works with the works of Shakespeare.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. ** NOT SPOILERS FREE** In literary terms, the only thing I disliked was the appearance/mention of the woman (Helen of Troy). Now what amused me the most about this story was the intertextuality between Doctor Faustus and Doctor Strange (when it comes to the main character's relation and ambition to the world of black magic and arts and his achieving that greatness) and Sherlock (just when it comes to 'The Woman', in that the thought of her makes the character sort of get confused and mentally col ** NOT SPOILERS FREE** In literary terms, the only thing I disliked was the appearance/mention of the woman (Helen of Troy). Now what amused me the most about this story was the intertextuality between Doctor Faustus and Doctor Strange (when it comes to the main character's relation and ambition to the world of black magic and arts and his achieving that greatness) and Sherlock (just when it comes to 'The Woman', in that the thought of her makes the character sort of get confused and mentally collapsed and lost). Overall, the internal battle and the psychology of Faustus's character are truly brilliant (I really loved Wagner though! I wish he had appeared more in the end- or that he was one of the characters who in the end would turn out to be really helpful for Faustus' increasing devastation! Whatever happened to Wagner...).

  28. 4 out of 5

    Phillip

    Doctor Faustus is probably Marlowe's best known play, but I actually prefer Edward II. For me, Edward II is the masterful culmination of Marlowe's obsession with outsiders. Edward is presented as a weak king dominated by his male lovers, and unable to assert his authority against rebellious nobles. But in his very patheticness, Edward ultimately obtains an existential fulfillment. One important thing to note is that the plot and situation of Edward II are virtually identical to Shakespeare's Ric Doctor Faustus is probably Marlowe's best known play, but I actually prefer Edward II. For me, Edward II is the masterful culmination of Marlowe's obsession with outsiders. Edward is presented as a weak king dominated by his male lovers, and unable to assert his authority against rebellious nobles. But in his very patheticness, Edward ultimately obtains an existential fulfillment. One important thing to note is that the plot and situation of Edward II are virtually identical to Shakespeare's Richard II, which was written in response to Marlowe's play. I haven't read The Jew of Malta, but the Tamburlaine plays are, critically speaking, throw away plays. There isn't much conflict to them, they are simply the story of a man who claims he's going to achieve greatness and then does.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pol

    I've only read the A- and B-texts of Faustus and I think I might go back for more Marlowe when I've cleared part of my interminable to-read list. What makes it even more compelling is the range of critical interpretations, which are covered in a rather brief section of the introduction (understandably so, still, a long introduction doesn't hurt...) The explanatory notes and glossary are helpful, as they are with every Oxford English Drama text. One wonders though, why not an edition of the Compl I've only read the A- and B-texts of Faustus and I think I might go back for more Marlowe when I've cleared part of my interminable to-read list. What makes it even more compelling is the range of critical interpretations, which are covered in a rather brief section of the introduction (understandably so, still, a long introduction doesn't hurt...) The explanatory notes and glossary are helpful, as they are with every Oxford English Drama text. One wonders though, why not an edition of the Complete Plays as they left out two of Marlowe's plays (I think) in this one, 'tis all – plus Penguin and Dent have long standing editions of Marlowe's complete dramatic works.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Brand

    Read "Doctor Faustus" for EN2004: Drama: Reading and Performance, 2011 "Doctor Faustus" was a quick and simple read, only around 40 pages long. So far I've only read the A-text so it shall be interesting to read the B-text and see how it differs. I found it quite amusing in places, although perhaps unintentionally? Faustus's end was tragic but inevitable, although I'm not sure whether it suggests that God wouldn't forgive him or if he was too heavily under Lucifer's power to ask for forgiveness? Read "Doctor Faustus" for EN2004: Drama: Reading and Performance, 2011 "Doctor Faustus" was a quick and simple read, only around 40 pages long. So far I've only read the A-text so it shall be interesting to read the B-text and see how it differs. I found it quite amusing in places, although perhaps unintentionally? Faustus's end was tragic but inevitable, although I'm not sure whether it suggests that God wouldn't forgive him or if he was too heavily under Lucifer's power to ask for forgiveness? Either way, I enjoyed reading the play and look forward to studying it this semester. 7/10

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