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  • Lance Mannion
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Could I suggest that you look at Charles Nicholl's book The Reckoning? It contains a very full and good analysis of Marlowe's career as a spy, plus his alleged atheism. Also, it's impossible to imagine Marlowe as the real author of the bast bulk of Shakespeare. They have very different esthetic approaches,not to mention senses of humor. Marlowe's verse is prone to prosiness and often remarkably clunky metrically, and you simply don't see the same sustained polish and finesse that is the mark of Shakespeare's maturity. I submit that no-one who considers the Shakespeare Was Really X question can afford to dismiss "the poet". You can learn to structure scenes and write good dialogue - but you can't, I think, learn to write consistently high-quality verse using another man's inner ear or mode of developing an image/metaphor.

Lance Mannion

Morzer, thanks for the heads up on Nicholl's book. I'll check it out. I really enjoyed his The Lodger Shakespeare.

Earl Bockenfeld

Speaking as someone who knows little to nothing about this and has no dog in this fight.

Reading your comments about who might be the "real Shakespeare" reminds me of talking with my tea bagger neighbor who is could cite all sorts of 'compelling' circumstantial evidence that Obama wasn't born in the US. There's not a single conspiracy theorist out there who can't cite a mountain of, what is to him/her, credible evidence in favor of any conspiracy. It all sounds so convincing to anyone who is relatively uninformed on the subject that, were that the only information he/she had access to, he/she might actually become convinced. I've learned that in these cases, it's wise to look toward the consensus opinion of those who's job is to think about and study these issues. I judge from what I've read and heard that the pretty strong consensus among Shakespeare scholars that Shakespeare did indeed pen the works attributed to him.

THIS, to me, is far more convincing that the piles of 'compelling circumstantial evidence' put forward by even by other more credible scholars. No one regards any other author's work with such scrutiny; any other author of that time would not have been able to bear the standard of proof, either. Why would anyone back then even bother setting up Shakespeare for literary legend hood...four hundred years after he died? Being a writer and actor wasn't such a big deal or lofty profession back then.


Marlowe was an interesting fellow, and a good poet. However, he wasn't nearly as good a playwright as Shakespeare. He did not possess his sense of stagecraft, and did not give his plays and characters the depth, contradictions and ambiguity that Shakespeare did. Doctor Faustus, for example, has some lovely poetry, but dramatically, it's relatively one-sided and predictable, as opposed to, say, Macbeth (probably the closest Shakespearean equivalent) or Goethe's nuanced, complex take.

In my experience, the people who prefer Marlowe to Shakespeare tend to only read the plays; they're not theater people, either in terms of staging productions or really even seeing them. (It's as if they like reading [admittedly decent] erotica, but they don't like sex, and are clueless about how it's done.) Shakespeare's best plays serve as great literature, it's true, but some people forget that they were written as scripts, which have different needs and dimensions.

All that said, yes, Marlowe was a much better poet and playwright than the other secret Shakespeare candidates. And don't get me wrong – I like Marlowe. But I can't stand the people who start pissing contests with Shakespeare, on behalf of Marlowe, or de Vere, or any of the rest. I'd prefer to just enjoy Marlowe on his own merits. But if there's a throwdown... But fun post, Lance.





So Ben Jonson who was playwright in residence at The Rose (and player in The Admiral's Company) prior to Shakespeare's rise and after his death (even inscribing two poems in Wm's First Folio) and was poet laureate of the entire nation, so the more likely candidate, doesn't even deserve a mention?

Lance Mannion

actor212, Jonson wouldn't have had a motive. And I do give him a mention. He's part of the reason I've never doubted Shakespeare wrote the plays. Jonson would have been the first to spot the imposture and he'd have squawked.


Jonson would have been the first to spot the imposture and he'd have squawked.

Unless, of course, he wrote them himself.

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