06 February 2006

Thinking about Christopher Marlowe, for no good reason--atheist, playwright, poet, and spy for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the First of England.... born some time this month four hundred and forty two years ago. (So was Galileo Galilei, come to think of it.) Transformed English drama with a handful of college buddies in his twenties--and dead before thirty. God, what a crew they were, these young men with their Senaca, their Ovid, their blank verse, and their incessant reading. Marlowe, Nash, Kyd and the bunch.

English theatre was in horrible shape till they hit the scene. Oh, yeah, we had the over-precious plays of Lyly to work with--and what else? Things like Common Conditions, and Sir Clyomen and Sir Clamydes--and believe me, these things have to be seen to be believed. (And how I wish I could for once see Clyomen and Clamydes--it's hard to believe it could ever have been performed, with its awkward fourteen-syllable rhymed verse and wholly preposterous situations.)

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