Welcome to Bookphilia's newest feature in which I, by black arts which shall remain secret, interview authors I want to talk to, no matter how long it's been since they've shuffled (or were pushed) off this mortal coil. I begin with the baddest bad boy ever to ruffle feathers and petticoats, or tickle beards and bottoms, in the history of English literature: Christopher Marlowe.
Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) was a gifted poet and dramatist in Renaissance England. He was so talented, in fact, he might have challenged Shakespeare for the title of “Most respected writer, including by those who’ve barely read his stuff” had he not died when he got his own knife planted in his eye at the tender age of 29. He was very eager to chat when I asked him to be the first subject of Bookphilia.com’s "I Interview Dead People".
Bookphilia: Mr. Marlowe, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m honoured that you’ve agreed to this interview.
Christopher Marlowe: My pleasure. But please, call me Kit.
B: Certainly, Kit. You can call me…anytime.
CM: Oh, so it’s going to be that kind of interview, is it? [Affects to look bored but doesn’t entirely succeed.]
B: I apologize, but I can’t help myself. You were my first literary boyfriend and while I have fallen in love a number of times since, I’ll always hold a flame for you because you wrote Hero and Leander, which I read when I was 14. In my imagination, I was Hero and you were Leander and well…. [Fans self vigorously.]
CM: Well, indeed. Yes, I see. We could re-enact this now, if you like…
B: …Um, I-
CM: It’s been much, much too long since I’ve made the beast with two backs.
B: Kitty, are you hitting on me? I thought you were…a sodomite? Didn’t you say that “he who loves not tobacco and boys is a fool”?
CM: Sure I did, but I didn’t confine myself to pederasty. I loved the ladies too. I was the Freddie Mercury of my age, but without the ridiculous moustache.
B: Well, it may be a long time since you made sweet love via a crude Shakespearean metaphor, but your body is still as straight as Circe’s wand, so-
CM: [Mood broken.] Excuse me, that was my beast metaphor. Why do people continue to attribute all of my pithy sound bites and brilliant ideas to Willy the Lump Lump? Without me, that lice-infested block wouldn’t have been allowed to do more than mop up the slops left after all the penny stinkers had slunk home. [Crosses arms in irritation.]
B: Well, I knew he drew on The Jew of Malta when he wrote The Merchant of Venice and- Wait, “Willy the Lump Lump”??
CM: Yes, of course. Will was quite the lummox you know. He was rather too fond of the ale and toasted cheese…and the result was that he had a fine pair of unctuous paps that were rather more prominent that your average bar wench’s.
B: And these were his lumps?
CM: Yes, his lovely lady lumps.
B: I thought the Black Eye Peas invented that phrase…?
CM: [Laughs long and hard.] Oh no, my silly but ineffective tart, they borrowed it from me! Getting angry again. See, the problem with old Willy is that on the one hand, people tout his originality which he in no way possessed, and on the other hand they use the fact that he stole from me to justify their doing the same. And another thing-
B: But what about New Historicist claims that Renaissance authors’ works were shaped by their culture rather than their writing being the result of “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”? Weren’t you and Shakespeare shaped by your culture rather than the opposite, which could help account for certain similarities in your works?
CM: No, my dear. No. The New Historicists used this admittedly clever tactic to try to prove that they were smarter than me and Will and our fabulously brilliant peers, such as Kyd and Sidney, etc. by making us the slaves of historical pressure while exempting themselves from it. They hit on this nefarious method because it erroneously allowed them to claim both moral and intellectual superiority over us, which is likely the only way these wankers were able to muster up the courage to try to talk about our work in the first place. Not that I’m admitting that Shakespeare was “all that,” as your generation persists in believing, but he was still smarter than your average lit critic.
B: Hey now…
CM: But this is boring me. Let’s talk more about me.
B: Okay, of course. My mistake. I’m sorry. Maybe you can shed some light on your death. The official story is that you started a brawl in a tavern over the bill and ended up with your own knife in your eye. Some historians and literary critics have suggested that you were actually murdered, not so coincidentally, shortly after you were accused of heresy. What really happened?
CM: Shakespeare murdered me, out of base envy.
CM: It’s true. He couldn’t stand the fact that I had all the talent, not to mention that I was getting all the ladies AND all the boys.
B: Are you fucking with me? I ask this most respectfully.
CM: Well, it may have been because I stole his toasted cheese too.
CM: Right, I’m off. You know, we spend all our days in heaven in endless morris dancing…naked. Care to join?
B: Er…maybe next time.
CM: Alright, your loss.