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Reviews247 provides clear accounts ofkey terms and developments in Brechts theories that are not easily available elsewhere. Kruger is committed to the Marxian concept that "performance and politics can create a resonant and effective field offorce capable not only of interpreting the world but of changing it" (18), and in this book she demonstrates the way that Brechts work, and the work of those who have foUowed and been influenced byhim, has created precisely such a"field of force" in two very different countries—and by implication also in the (post-?) imperial world we inhabit. Stephen Brockmann Carnegie Mellon University Patrick Cheney, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Christopher Marlowe.Cambridge: CambridgeUniversityPress,2004. Pp. xix + 312. £45.00 casebound; £15.95 paperbound. The Cambridge Companion to Christopher Marlowe contains seventeen generally short essays, including the editor's introduction. The focus is often on the Marlowe "industry" that has emerged in recent years rather than on the works ofthe playwright himself. A handbook such as this is presumably intended as a guide for students, teachers, scholars who wish a broad overview of a subject, and interested members of the general public. The book certainly is not itself an example oforiginal scholarship, nor perhaps was it meant to be. Except for a single essay, a fine essay by Lois Potter surveying Marlowe's plays on stage and in film, its slant generally is toward the literary rather than the theatrical. The methodology ranges from the eminently sensible to the cliché-ridden and the trendy. Some contributions are very worthwhile and can be read with pleasure, but others may be faulted for presenting peripheral commentary, some of it certainly destined to be baffling to a portion of the readership. FoUowing the editor's introduction, David Riggs provides an essay on biographical matters, always a vexed subject in Marlowe studies. This is reflected in attempts to trace his childhood as a cobbler's son up to his enroUment in the King's School at Canterbury, during which time he must have been given a good grounding in classical Latin literature and, it might be added, provided with exposure to several ofthe major companies of visiting players. He would later complain about "jiggling veins of rhyming mother-wits" when he wrote part 1 of Tamburlaine—a challenge to the prevailing style of drama that needs to be seen as a reaction against the kinds ofplays produced by these companies. Then, at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, he was influentiaUy introduced to 248Comparative Drama Ramist logic, which rejected the formal ways of argument in favor of " competing] belief on an ad hoc basis" (27). Marlowe's works do need to be examined against what can be known about his private life, which seems to have been inordinately troubled and yet colorful but ending in his murder—a murder which has yet to be fully explained. Authorship is considered by Laurie E. Maguire, who takes on perhaps some even more puzzling questions about the plays written by Marlowe for a succession of acting companies but also giving attention here (as elsewhere in the handbook) to the nondramatic works. She reminds us that the dramatist was apparently still an undergraduate when he wrote the first installment of Tamburlaine. Every student of Marlowe recognizes that his style, discussed here by Russ McDonald, was the source of his power and the reason that his dramatic work struck trie English theater like a planet. Then Paul Whitfield White contributes a useful survey of the politics of the playwright's religion, a very vexed topic indeed in Marlowe's case. Tamburlaine, in its challenge to the official politics of the day such as the Queen's Men promoted with their agenda ofsupport for the regime of Queen Elizabeth, raised basic questions about the role of Providence and political power. But religious and moral questions are in the fore throughout the other plays as well, and White places these in the context of the sectarian violence ofthe day.As for Doctor Faustus, it would have been good ifWhite had been more specific about the role ofdouble predestination, which was being promoted by WiUiam Perkins and others at Cambridge, and about the despair, discussed so ably...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 247-250
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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