Re: A Dead Man in Deptford
Posted by Sterling on 28/4/2012, 20:16:12, in reply to "Re: A Dead Man in Deptford"
Good points, both of you. It fascinates me that so much of ADMID is verified historical fact. We know, for instance, that Frizer, Skeres, and Poley were present at the Widow Bull's establishment. We know that Frizer had a direct connection to Thomas Walsingham. I'm intrigued by Burgess' implication that Marlowe's murder was primarily political, but that Frizer, who actually stabbed him, might have had personal motives of jealousy and sexual outrage as well. |
So much is known about Marlowe, so little is known about Shakespeare. Burgess had to make up most of the plot of NLTS, based more on the "evidence" of the Sonnets than any historical documentation. Although the dialogue is invented, most of the action in ADMID is documented.
As to spying-for-money, Kit does not seem to realize the gravity of his actions until the horrible executions following the betrayal of the Babington Plot, including the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots. Thereafter, he tries to get out of it.
And by the way, the scene where he and Walsingham are discovered at his parents is one of the more cringe-inducing scenes I have read in years!
: I finished A Dead Man in Deptford a few days ago and had
: posted some comments--basically just agreeing with
: what Sterling said--in the Nothing Like the Sun
: I like your idea of Marlowe as a "champion of
: freedom and independent thinking." I suppose he
: and others like him were the forerunners of the
: It is interesting, but not surprising, that Marlowe is
: investigated by the authorities for his religious
: thinking, not for his sexual behavior, even though he
: was rather careless about the latter. The power of the
: state rested on a religious foundation, so it reacted
: more vigorously to threats in that direction.
: To a limited degree, I think Burgess's two novels
: reflected the time in which they were written. Nothing
: Like the Sun, written in the early 1960s, displays a
: bold open-mindedness about sexuality and race, issues
: that were at the forefront in the 1960s. In A Dead Man
: in Deptford, Burgess introduces religious controversy
: and the problems of immigration and cultural
: assimilation, issues that were more pertinent in the
: I found it amusing that people like Walsingham
: complained so much about the stench of tobacco while
: surrounded by open sewers, rotting meat, and unwashed
: bodies. It's all a matter of what you were used to.
: When I was a child the use of tobacco was so pervasive
: that no one noticed it. I'm sure the first thing a
: time traveler would remark, whether going to the 1590s
: or the 1950s, is the smell.
: And speaking of time travel, we seem to be taking
: intermittent trips to London, but going steadily back
: in time. Last year it was to the 1660s with A Journal
: of the Plague Year. This month to the 1590s with two
: playwrights. In June to the early 1500s with Wolf
: --Previous Message--
: What a great idea to read both Burgess's books in
: consecutive order! I enjoyed them both, but clearly
: the more so for having read them back to back. It was
: like a deep immersion in Elizabethan England. If WS's
: character had been endearing to me, I deeply admired
: Burgess's development of Kit Marlowe as a champion of
: freedom and independent thinking in an age of fierce
: and stupid religious fighting. Clearly, one could
: reproach him his spying-for-money, but then again he
: didn't believe in any religion and he needed the
: money. Marlowe, of course, was far from an innocent
: guy. He was mischievous and cynical, but one has to
: admire him for never compromising his liberty of
: thought. Now, the darker aspect is that he seems to
: have sold his life to the spying network, which in the
: end provoked his death.
: I loved Burgess's language. Although I had to resort
: to a dictionary frequently, the use of archaic words
: reinforced the transport to the Elizabethan age.
: Certainly, Marlowe's open homosexuality can be
: shocking (the scene when his parents catch him
: sleeping naked with Walsingham was embarrassing), but
: it is another piece of his defiance of established
: order. For behind the supposed rigidity of the age's
: mores, one can see a frewheeling era, a time of little
: restraint on one's appetites, and not much
: law-enforcing going on in the streets.
: Just first thoughts on what I think are two excellent
: novels. Anyone else read them both?