Article Title

Marlowe's Texts and Oral Transmission: Towards the Zielform


Thomas Pettit


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

The Elizabethan popular theater was the product of a uniquely intense and creative encounter between literary art and traditional culture, and the plays of Christopher Marlowe offer as powerful an instance of this interaction as could be wished.1 It is not so much that Marlowe's plays sometimes reflect or encompass folklore, as that in significant and intriguing ways, they are analogous to folklore. There is nothing romantic, arcane or subversive in this, and no appeal will be made in what follows to distant origins, deep structures, or carnivalesque inversions. Rather, the plays meet many of the criteria by which folklore is defined, and in consequence they can legitimately and rewardingly be appreciated deploying methodologies and insights developed in the study of traditional culture.


1Ruth Lunney, Marlowe and the Popular Tradition: Innovation in the English Drama before 1595, Revels Plays Companion Library (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002).

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