Sunday, May 18, 2003

Graver laborer

Contrary to what Terry Ross states in recent HLAS post, it matters *not* when the nom de plume "William Shakespeare" was invented....Nor does it matter (to the Marlovian case) if it was published BEFORE CM allegedly got stabbed.

For that matter, the Dedication could even have been written before his sudden end (hours before he boarded a boat, or swam across the sea to France.). Whenever he wrote to Wriothesley, he must have been aware of his "death" (recent or impending), since he left a glaring clue, promising Essex's protege, Wriothesley, a "graver labor." (Henry was a lawless maverick young nobleman in those days: the year after Marlowe was sent packing, he helped the murderer Danver flee to Europe to escape legal prosecution.) So the dark wordplay of "graver labor" is EXACTLY what one might expect from writer of Marlowe's bravado and brilliance, as he demonstrates in *Hero and Leander*

But when he [Neptune] knew it was not Ganimed,
For underwater he [Leander] was almost dead,
He heav'd him up, and looking on his face,
Beat downe the bold waves with his triple mace,
Which mounted up, intending to have kist him,
And fell in drops like teares, because they mist him.

*missed* (as in a lover missing the beloved) *missed* (as in the waves missing a direct hit on his face and become the third meaning), *mist* (as in fine spray of water).

A triple play on words. So when Marlowe wrote to Wriothesley about undertaking a "graver labor," he was leaving the first(?) of many clues of his "posthumous" literary existence.

Well-read eyes

The Man Behind the MaskThe inquest inquiry and "man behind the mask" posts have attracted some notice. Not much helpful. Someone was confused about when Venus and Adonis was printed, but it was cleared-up thanks to supercilious Terry Ross and bookish Bookburn. The lunatic "Lyra" chimed in also, with some sour notes about "red-eye" which you can read . . here.

Or click on the image of Shakespeare at left to see what they're talking about. The eyes look brown to me.

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