(book review) Melnikoff: Edward II – A Critical Reader

At £20+, you need a real connection to the play to get your money’s worth.

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Kirk Melnikoff (ed.), Edward II: A Critical Reader (Arden Early Modern Drama Guides), (Bloomsbury Publishing:  London, 2017)

 

 

 

 

This is my first taste of the Arden Early Modern Drama Guides series; my overall impression was a positive one.

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Quotation of the Week: 20 August 2018 (#54)

Marlowe didn’t join them; he wanted to beat them, I think …

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Marlowe increasingly seems a malcontent, fringe figure, occupying some very liminal spaces indeed on the shadowy edges of society …

Three weeks ago, I suggested that Marlowe had ‘learned too much at school‘,  contributing to his generally accepted ‘atheism’.  This week’s quote follows that, to consider his attitude to class … it also provides another useful adition to our store of understanding of why EMP writers wrote in the florid (at least to modern ears) style that they did.  Getting to grips with this is, I maintain, key to deciphering the texts.

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Forensic Friday (#09): Edward II (iv.400-407)

Without any protection from his class background, Gaveston’s fall was always going to be fatal.

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Alex Honnold – image: Jimmy Chin

Meet Alex Honnold:

‘history’s greatest ever climber in the free solo style, meaning he ascends without a rope or protective equipment of any kind.'[a]

Just researching a picture for this post made me feel a little nauseous …

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Forensic Friday (#08) Edward II: iv, 223-229

‘We’ve had this date from the beginning’ …

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Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh
Sometimes the air crackles as soon as two characters lock eyes … Brando and Leigh had it in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, and I think Marlowe achieves it towards the beginning of Edward II

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Forensic Friday (#07): Edward II, (iv.15-21)

‘Know your place’, the world of literature seems to scream. ‘Or else …’

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Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678):  ‘Phaeton Falling’ … careful he doesn’t land on you!

If there’s anything I enjoy as much as anti-heroes, it’s tales of Promethean over-reachers.

Christopher Marlowe belongs in that category, I believe …

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Cultural Capital 07: Tragedy

We loved a fall from grace as much then as we do now …

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For Christ’s sake, can’t you see I’m busy, Ophelia? Get thee to a nunnery!

[this article first appeared in the in-house magazine I edit for our sixth-form English students]

Tragedy!  When the  feeling’s gone and you can’t go on …

It’s not that long ago that I appalled a class by stating that whilst the death of a pet dog might be ‘quite sad’, it definitely wasn’t ‘tragic’. ^

I definitely spend too much time in the late 16th century!

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QotW: 30 July 2018 (#51)

Marlowe probably DID make a hazard of his head by easing his heart …

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The more I read about Marlowe, the more I like and sympathise with him – arrogant, frustrated genius, malcontent, morally questionable, and attention-whore as he may have been.  I sense a kindred spirit: my best friend would say the same about me – perhaps with a lot more arrogance and a lot less genius.  As I get older, I like to think that my moral code is finally begining to crystallise, where it was entirely fluid 25 years ago, but then Marlowe never had the opportunity to mellow …

Increasingly, I see Marlowe as the kind of ‘mis-shapeJarvis Cocker sung about in 1995:

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