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The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (1992)
by Charles Nicholl
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Reading this at the same time as The Power Broker does Nicholl no favors. The explanation/epxloration of the Elizabethan spy world is meandering and boring, with scads of side stories that just seem pointless by the end. Not something I can really recommend. ( )
Enjoyed it. The author has a point of view and prosecutes his case, filling in evidence with speculation that hangs together and is amusing to consider. Nicholl takes necessarily spotty historical evidence and weaves a compelling story around it. Did it happen this way? We'll never know, but it was a lively, entertaining, and well-argued read.
Fascinating - and very well written as well. My best non-fiction find of the year.
(Recommended by William C.29 June 2011)
The winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Non-fiction Gold Dagger Award in 1992 Charles Nicoll has written a fascinating literary detective story. What did happen to Kit Marlowe? Why was he killed in “a tavern brawl” on 30 May, 1593. Was the author of “Dr Faustus” and “The Jew of Malta” a spy? The story is preceded by the epigraph: “I find the matter as in a labyrinth: easier to go in than to go out” and thus it is with this tale. There are countless twists and permutations associated with Marlowe’s death.
By the late 20th early 21st centuries we are inured to conspiracy theories. If anyone in authority suggests a cause of death that does not ring true we are quite happy to accept any other theory than the official one. Marlowe was such a great talent and dies so young we cannot accept that he might have died for so banal a reason as an argument over the reckoning: an account (or bill) owing at a sleazy tavern. The other likely scenario is that he was mixed up in a spying ring and that he became expendable. Of course before we arrive at that point there is also the suggestion that he may have been a counterfeiter in the employ of the Catholic party plotting the return of Mary Queen of Scots; or perhaps he was inciting others to atheism (a capital offence); and then there are any number of literary and other petty jealousies floating around.
Aside from anything else “The Reckoning” is well written and is a delight to read. If you are interested in Marlowe it is a must read.
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Wikipedia in English (9)
This is a story of the Elizabethan underworld. It is a full-length investigation of the killing, tracing Marlowe's shadowy political dealings, his involvement in covert intelligence work, the charges of heresy and homosexuality against him. Critical new evidence is uncovered about his three companions on that last day in Deptford. Through Charles Nicholl's detailed research, a complex, unsettling story of entrapment and betrayal, chimerical plots and dirty tricks emerges.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)822.3Literature English & Old English literatures English drama Elizabethan 1558-1625
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