marlowe was always more intriguing
March 6, 2002 12:55 PM

We all know I don't always pay enough attention, so it shouldn't be a surprise that I got to Salon's bit on the new movie "Much Ado About Something" a couple of days late. People react so strongly to ideas that Shakespeare might not be what they think he was.

Honestly, who cares? I suppose you have to care if you insist on thinking of Shakespeare as the greatest writer ever, but was he (or were they)? Most of the case for Shakespeare-as-uber-writer seems built on his use of language, which assumes the language used in those plays/sonnets is somehow superior. What makes that language better than, say, Susan-Lori Parks' organic-sounding text?

I won't deny that the plays are well-crafted, but a nicely crafted plot is hardly considered enough for a modern writer. Look at Stephen King, master of the well-crafted plot, considered little more than a pulp novelist. Is he misclassed? Perhaps.

Point being. Shakespeare is only the best because Shakespeare is assumed to be the best, and that assumption proliferates, passed from teacher to student until Shakespeare becomes the totem of ivory-tower academia. And the rest of us, outside the towers, just assume that what we're told is true. At least in America, where we're very good at that (honestly, who can spare the time for an opinion on everything?).

I'm intrigued by the film, of course, just as I've been intrigued by Marley-the-character (really, who isn't?). Whether Marlowe was Shakespeare or no, he was and interesting and mysterious character, and that makes for entertaining literary history. There's more about the movie in the links, following the review, here.

But. For the record. I'm not terribly fond of Marlowe's plays, either.

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