Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe

About Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe, (Canterbury, before 26 February 1564 - London, 30 May 1593), was a British poet, playwright and translator. An Elizabethan tragedian contemporary to Shakespeare (who was born in April of the same year), he is known for his mastery of iambic pentameter, like in his famous pastoral poem The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (1599), and for his emblematic protagonists, as well as for his violent, premature death shrouded in mystery. He is considered one of the precursors of modern tragedy, for the creator of blank verse, and for the founding father of Elizabethan drama. Marlowe adopted blank verse, which was introduced around 1540 by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, in his translation of the second and fourth books of the Aeneid. He is considered the greatest reformer of the theater form of the period with the introduction of this structure that will be used by Shakespeare. He was a controversial and dissolute character, on whom ferocious accusations of militancy in the British secret services and libertinism weighed: he died at the age of twenty-nine during a fight in a London tavern. It is speculated that Marlowe acted as an undercover agent for Francis Walsingham. According to the testimony of his assassins, Christopher Marlowe was killed at a young age in a tavern brawl in May 1593, although it is not certain what happened on that fateful afternoon.
Marlowe attended The King's School (Canterbury) (where a building now bears his name) and Corpus Christi College (Cambridge), where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1584. His dramas reflect the result of such an extreme life: his characters suffer from an insane lust for power (as in Tamerlane the Great I and II), from unbridled sensuality (Edward II), from immoderate greed (The Jew of Malta), of an infinite thirst for knowledge (Faustus). Marlowe was hyperbolic in pushing a character's overriding passion to an extreme. His first play was Dido, Queen of Carthage, presumably written with the help of Thomas Nashe and first performed between 1587 and 1593. The first production of his play was Tamerlane (Tamburlaine the Great), whose great success made it necessary to write a second part. Followed by The Jew of Malta, Edward II, The Massacre at Paris, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. In all, seven plays have survived, plus a few other works, the most famous of which is the epic poem Hero and Leander. The study of Greek and Latin classics allowed him to translate in about 1582 the first book of Lucan's Pharsalia and Ovid's Amores. Marlowe was a magnificent singer of human passions. The debauchery and the aura of mystery that surrounded him made him a myth for the romantics who saw in him the prototype of the cursed artist, genius and recklessness.

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