I have always heard the arguements, rather absent mindedly in the dark halls of Riverview (the english department's ancient building on my campus) that Shakespeare is not responsible for writing what is ascribed to him.
My Shakespeare professor had to deal with this the first day of class, when someone said, "Shouldn't we be talking about Marlowe" and he handled it as best he could in those circumstances, "For the purposes of this university and this class it has been decided you need to study Shakespeare. I'm just presenting it, and it's good stuff. I don't care who wrote it, or how many people wrote it, it's just good literature." I tend to agree with him. (Tho for my own purposes, it's good, but not that good! The guy (whoever he is) is very ambiguous which leaves everything open to interepretation. Does that mean he was deep? Or just incomplete and toying with audiences.) Now before all Shakespeare fanatics slam me, don't get me wrong, I do like him. I am just not sure he is the Greatest Literate mind of the English Language, but then again, I can not quickly point out someone better suited to the title so I will keep my opinion to myself on this.
So as I was saying...I didn't pay a lot of attention to this debate or know a lot of the details. In my Renisance Lit class, my professor said "Marlowe was a slacker. He had to use his spy connections in order to graduate. In fact while I am not a HUGE fan of Shakespeare, I like Marlowe even less. He seems far too heady for me and deep. Shakespeare is far more playful in my mind. However I do see inconsistancies in Shakespeare that lead me to believe if he did write them, he did not do so alone.
Frontline just had a very interesting documentary on PBS tonight presenting the "evidence" and the supposed theories about the authorship of Shakespeare called "Much Ado About Something". It was really great. (Or at least to me it was interesting) Here is a link:
The theory proposed is that Marlowe didn't die, that in fact he went to Italy in exile to escape pressures as being labeled a heretic by the church because he said Jesus was a bastard and Mary was a good liar (funny stuff) among other things. Just as the case against him was being compiled and drawing to an end, he died and was quickly burried in a mass grave. Or so history says. These theorists believe he escaped. His patron Wallsingham carried his plays back to England and they were given to Shakespeare who was essentially a stooge. The maker of this documentary thinks Shakespeare did present the plays and added his own stylistic charm to them, but the themes of exile, loss, faked death, resurrection, desire to return to one's homeland, etc. are so strong in all of Shakespeares work that seems odd an unlettered man who lived in England his whole life would write about such things.
Anyway it was interesting to think about. If any of you are interested I would highly recommend seeing this show if you get the chance.
I'm also curious as to what people think. Does it matter who wrote them? Is this a great travesty of the English literature that Marlowe is swept under the rug? Do you think these theories of faked death are plausible?
Fill me in...I'm curious to know what you all think...