Cover image for Christopher Marlowe : a Renaissance life
Title:
Christopher Marlowe : a Renaissance life
Author:
Kuriyama, Constance Brown, 1942-
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
xxi, 255 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
A Canterbury tale -- Fetching gentry from the university -- Commencing the M.A.: acquaintances, friends, and connections -- A poet's life in London -- Lord Strange and Thomas Walsingham -- Fortune turns base -- A trim reckoning -- The dead shepherd -- Marlowe lost and found.
ISBN:
9780801439780
Format :
Book

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PR2673 .K87 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Christopher Marlowe (1564 1593) emerges in most accounts of his life by biographers and critics as a mysterious and sensational action figure, a hapless pawn of circumstance, or a pseudonymous cipher. Constance Brown Kuriyama's new biography reconstructs the eventful life of a radically innovative playwright who flourished briefly and died violently more than four hundred years ago, yet persists in the romantic imagination even today.

Many discoveries about Marlowe's life have emerged over the past hundred years. The author here supplements these findings with new material, placing the dramatist and poet more precisely in his historical milieu. Kuriyama interprets Marlowe's acts of violence inexplicable though they may seem as logical consequences of the circumstances he faced. Experience and temperament both accounted for the characteristically brash way he moved through the world. The stringent constraints of Elizabethan society, which encouraged intense political and religious conflicts, had a great influence on Marlowe's thinking, while his ambitions were stirred by the period's unprecedented opportunities for talented individuals to rise in society.

The documentary evidence assembled by Kuriyama and made available to readers allows her to show how Marlowe was able to take advantage of Elizabethan social mobility. In the context of Elizabethan education, society, and culture, Marlowe becomes a fully human, three-dimensional figure."


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

When he died at the age of 29, Christopher Marlowe (1564-93) left behind numerous plays and poems as well as a tangled personal legacy of political and religious intrigue. Marlowe scholar Kuriyama offers a new biography that functions more like a reconstruction of the playwright's persona than a chronicle of his life. She contends that by focusing too much on the documents about events in Marlowe's life, previous biographies have failed to interpret these documents within the political and cultural context. In this more speculative life of Marlowe, Kuriyama provides insightful details into English education, politics, and religion during the Renaissance, but her preoccupation with challenging earlier Marlowe biographies narrows the book's appeal to the small circle of Renaissance and Marlowe scholars. Kuriyama concludes that we know so little about Marlowe from the evidence we have that we must invent our own portrait of him, but her workmanlike prose and scholarly approach does not allow for much invention. Appropriate for academic libraries only. Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

In this extraordinary biography, Kuriyama (Texas Tech. Univ.) takes a fresh look at the documentary evidence relating to Marlowe's life, including unpublished material uncovered by the late William Urry (author of Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury, 1988), and provides new discoveries of her own. The results are often surprising. For example, early biographers of Marlowe assumed that his university absences were unusual and saw them as corroborating the idea that he had become a government spy. Kuriyama shows that Marlowe's attendance pattern was not atypical for Cambridge students. Such close attention to the documentary evidence and its context similarly deflates many of other assumptions that have made Marlowe into a poster boy for Elizabethan transgression and leaves the reader with a more human, and more complicated, Marlowe than the one they thought they knew. The study's value is enhanced by an appendix that for the first time collects in one place virtually all of the primary documents (freshly transcribed and translated) relating to Marlowe's life. Highly readable and easy to use, the book will serve lower- and upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. It is an essential acquisition for all academic libraries. B. E. Brandt South Dakota State University


Excerpts

Excerpts

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) emerges in most accounts of his life by biographers and critics as a mysterious and sensational action figure, a hapless pawn of circumstance, or a pseudonymous cipher. Constance Brown Kuriyama's new biography reconstructs the eventful life of a radically innovative playwright who flourished briefly and died violently more than four hundred years ago, yet persists in the romantic imagination even today. Many discoveries about Marlowe?s life have emerged over the past hundred years. The author here supplements these findings with new material, placing the dramatist and poet more precisely in his historical milieu. Kuriyama interprets Marlowe's acts of violence-inexplicable though they may seem-as logical consequences of the circumstances he faced. Experience and temperament both accounted for the characteristically brash way he moved through the world. The stringent constraints of Elizabethan society, which encouraged intense political and religious conflicts, had a great influence on Marlowe's thinking, while his ambitions were stirred by the period's unprecedented opportunities for talented individuals to rise in society. The documentary evidence assembled by Kuriyama-and made available to readers-allows her to show how Marlowe was able to take advantage of Elizabethan social mobility. In the context of Elizabethan education, society, and culture, Marlowe becomes a fully human, three-dimensional figure. Excerpted from Christopher Marlowe: A Renaissance Life by Constance Brown Kuriyama All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.