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Tamburlaine (Dover Thrift Editions) de…
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Tamburlaine (Dover Thrift Editions) (1587 original; edició 2002)

de Christopher Marlowe (Autor)

Sèrie: Tamburlaine (1-2)

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This volume contains the two parts of Tamburlaine the Great and The Massacre at Paris. The text is presented in old-spelling with a full critical commentary and textual annotation.
Títol:Tamburlaine (Dover Thrift Editions)
Autors:Christopher Marlowe (Autor)
Informació:Dover Publications (2002), 128 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca

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Tamburlaine de Christopher Marlowe (1587)

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The language of hyperbole the relentless cruelty of the central character and a play that features one martial exploit after another as the protagonists march across the stage makes the reading of it an exhausting experience. It was however a great hit on the Elizabethan stage, it was the play that put Christopher Marlowe on the map, in fact part 1 was so popular that the sequel part 2 was soon in production and it proved to be remarkably similar to part one without losing its power to shock its audience. If ever a character strode across the stage like a colossus then it would be Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great, but over 5 hours of this striding is enough for anybody. Modern productions of the play that wish to tell the whole story (i.e. parts 1 and 2) have tended to make substantial cuts to the text.

Marlowe's play comes under the genre of history plays. Timur of Lenk was a conquering chieftain from the previous century (fifteenth) and was seen both as a cruel barbarian as well as a charismatic figure who threatened christian Europe. Marlowe's Tamburlaine mirrors this dichotomy and in part 1 of the play the audience could both admire and be horrified by the central character, in part 2 the audience is more likely to be horrified as the cruelty takes over and Tamburlaine slips into something like madness. Marlowe depicts the charismatic side of Tamburlain not only by continual reference to his physical attributes but by the use of the language of hyperbole set down in strident iambic pentameters. This language is not only used by Tamburlaine himself, but also by other characters when describing Tamburlaine. In Act 2 scene 1 we get a description by Menaphon an adversary:

Of stature tall, and straightly fashionèd,
Like his desire, lift upwards and devine;
So large of limbs, his joints so strongly knit,
Such breadth of shoulders as might mainly bear
Old Atlas' burden. 'Twixt his manly pitch,
A pearl more worth than all the world is placed,
Wherein by curious sovereignty of art
Are fixed his piercing instruments of sight
Whose fiery circles bear encompassèd
A heaven of heavenly bodies in their spheres...........

And this is Tamburlaine chiding Bajazeth whom he takes prisoner to humiliate and torture:

The Chiefest God, first mover of the sphere
Enchased with thousand ever-shining lamps,
Will sooner burn the glorious frame of heaven
Than it should conspire my overthrow.
But, villain, thou that wishest this to me,
fall prostrate on the low, disdainful earth
And be the footstool of the great Tamburlain,
That I may rise into my royal throne.

(Be very suspicious of anybody that refers to themselves in the third person.)

Elizabethan playgoers had never heard this sort of language before and it has since been dubbed Marlowe's mighty line. The soaring magnificence of Marlowe's mighty line in iambic pentameters would have been key to the popularity of the play, but so would the cruelty of the action onstage: King Bajazeth is kept starving in an iron cage which is brought into the food hall where Tamburlaine holds court, he is offered a knife to kill his caged wife so that he can live from her flesh, finally he beats his brains out on the iron bars as does his wife. The Governor of a besieged city sends out a group of virgins to Tamburlaine to plead for mercy, he hardly listens to their pleas before ordering his horse men to run them through with their spears and has their slaughtered carcasses hoisted up on the walls of the city. He stabs to death one of his own sons who refuses to fight................He orders the death of every man, woman and child of towns who do not surrender within three days of his arrival, commenting that they know my custom my pride would not let me do anything else.

The character of a tyrant who sees himself more exalted than a God is exposed in a soliloquy just after he has ordered the killing of the virgins. He starts significantly by declaring his love for Zenocrate (his sort of love) before ruminating on his place in the world, his virtue, his nobility and his glory. Opposite him plays Zenocrate, who is the daughter of the Sultan of Egypt and whose beauty saves her from being a mere slave of Tamburlaine. He professes his love and makes her his queen, but it is a love based on show, she is a trophy which he loves to parade and Zenocrate accepts her role, first to save her skin and then she grows into being wife to Tamburlaine and exalting his greatness. She is brought up short when she sees the bodies of Bajazeth and his wife, but can rationalise the actions of her husband. Her death in part 2 involves a sumptuous funeral and her coffin is carted around by Tamburlaine and put on display wherever he is fighting his next war. Zenocrate like the audience is charmed by the charisma of Tambulaine and becomes blind or chooses not to see his cruelty.

There are other themes in the play apart from the depiction of a tyrant, but they need to be picked out. Wars of religion and the slaughter of christians by their Moslem enemies makes it impossible for them to combine together to defeat Tamburlaine. Loyalty bred by fear rather than love is another theme, but essentially this is a play about Tamburlain the great. Marlowe's magnificent rhetoric makes this a play to be admired rather than loved. Opening it at any point and the reader can enjoy some brilliant blank verse, but to carry on reading page after page of martial exploits is perhaps not for everyone. It is not a play that I would want to re-read in full and I would hesitate to attend a live production, because the success of the play would depend on the acting of the central character, the way the director handles the action scenes and an atmospheric production. The temptation may be to soak everything in buckets of blood which is not my thing. Let Tamburlaine have the last word:

But since I exercise a greater name ,
The scourge of God and terror of the world,
I must apply myself to fit those terms,
In war, in blood, in death, in cruelty,
And plague such peasants as resist in me
The power of heavens eternal majesty,......

4 stars. ( )
1 vota baswood | Jun 4, 2019 |
Like his desire, lift upwards and divine

Tamburlaine is epic and merciless. Kit gave us an orientalist paen, but one woven with gilded verse, an elevating counterpoint to the interminable bloodshed. Marlowe’s canvas is vast, as the dying Tamburlaine commands: Give me a map. The extant world systems are pushed aside and the operating codes are knitted by circumstance. Each is left as ashes by the horde.

Each scene is but chapter of conquest. Diplomacy and fealty no longer mean exactly what they did previously. Nor does Faith.

A god is not so glorious as a king. I think the pleasure they enjoy in heaven
Can not compare with kingly joys in earth.

It is engaging to consider the effect of staging the exploits of the Scourge of God to an Elizabethan audience. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |

This is usually discussed as a single play in two parts, and I guess I agree with that, though it is notable that the two parts are set at least twenty years apart - the first ends with Tamburlaine marrying Zenocrate, by the start of the second they have three grown-up sons. I felt it had a tremendous energy; lots of violence and horrible death, a portrait of a monstrous leader who in the end is defeated not by battle but by illness. It's deliberately over the top, I think, and Shakespeare makes fun of the line "Holla ye pampered jades of Asia!" addressed by Tamburlaine to two captive kings harnessed to his chariot (in Henry IV part 2 II.iv).

A lot of commentators try to read Marlowe's own views into Tamburlaine, in particular extrapolating his supposed atheism from the scene in Part Two where Tamburlaine burns the Koran. It seemed pretty clear to me that this scene is about Tamburlaine breaking faith with his own former religion, just as he has broken faith with the Christian rulers in the first act and with his insufficiently violent son Calyphas, and we should not mistake the views and actions of the character for those of the author. That's not to say that Marlowe was not an atheist, just that I don't find this scene convincing evidence that he was (whereas I do find the opening scene of Dido convincing evidence that he was very comfortable with man-boy love).

I'm perfectly satisfied with Tamburlaine as a new form of entertainment rather than a political statement. This was apparently the first attempt to do an epic in blank verse; there's also vast amounts of conflict and spectacle - defeated opponents killed in various gory ways, Tamburlaine himself as a dominant character and aspirant force of nature, attempting to shape the world to his own liking and ultimately defeated not by Man but by entropy. It made Edward Alleyn's reputation when first produced. (It didn't make William Shatner's reputation, though he appeared in a Broadway production in 1956 as Tamburlaine's hanger-on Usumcasane.)

I've long been fascinated by the real Timur, and hope that some day I will be able to visit his tomb in Samarkand. Needless to say, Marlowe's narrative bears only the vaguest resemblance to the real history of his subject. Unlike Dido, where I think there's a didactic point about taking the Æneid and adding to it rather than varying, the point here is invention rather than history. ( )
1 vota nwhyte | Dec 11, 2016 |
3,5 stars ( )
  pyromorphite | Mar 31, 2013 |
Tamburlaine the conqueror. Not much in terms of genuine character development, but with beautiful passages and historical allusions. Violence for its own sake. Probably a piece for a famous actor to take the title role. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Christopher Marloweautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Dawson, Anthony B.Editorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Ellis-Fermor, Una MaryEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Jump, John D.Editorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Martin, Mathew R.Editorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Ribner, IrvingEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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This volume contains the two parts of Tamburlaine the Great and The Massacre at Paris. The text is presented in old-spelling with a full critical commentary and textual annotation.

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