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Marlowe's Soldiers: Rhetorics of Masculinity in the Age of the Armada.



Alan C. Shepard. Marlowe's Soldiers: Rhetorics of Masculinity in the Age of the Armada.

Aldershot and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2002. viii + 248 pp. index. bibl. $69.95. ISBN ISBN
abbr.
International Standard Book Number


ISBN International Standard Book Number

ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m 
: 0-7546-0229-X.

Alan Shepard's new book is a welcome addition to recent historicist studies of Marlowe, drawing upon and augmenting influential works by Emily Bartels, Simon Shepherd Simon Shepherd (born 20 August 1956 in Bristol, England) is an actor, most famous for playing Dr. Will Preston in Peak Practice.

He has also appeared in Chancer and in Gimme Gimme Gimme as himself.
, Nick de Somogyi, and Curtis Breight. Shepard considers Marlowe's plays in the context of an ongoing discourse concerning militarism Militarism
See also Soldiering.

Adrastus

leader of the Seven against Thebes. [Gk. Myth.: Iliad]

Siegfried

killed many enemies; led many troops to victory. [Ger. Lit. Nibelungenlied]
, masculinity, and state security that took place in England during the years following the defeat of the Spanish Armada. He argues that the plays present contradictory and frequently subversive attitudes toward the rhetoric of war fever War Fever is a collection of short stories by J. G. Ballard, first published in 1990 by Collins. It includes:
  • War Fever
  • The Secret History of World War 3
  • Dream Cargoes
  • The Object of the Attack
  • Love in a Colder Climate
 that marked those years, and he attempts to explain "how and why," in a culture in which theatricality and soldiership were conventionally opposed, "Marlowe's plays make entertainment of a wealth of historically and geopolitically divergent fantasies about martial law martial law, temporary government and control by military authorities of a territory or state, when war or overwhelming public disturbance makes the civil authorities of the region unable to enforce its law.  and its discontents" (2).

Central to his study is an analysis of the "theatrics the·at·rics  
n.
1. (used with a sing. verb) The art of the theater.

2. (used with a pl. verb) Theatrical effects or mannerisms; histrionics.
 of masculinity" (3) in Marlowe's plays. Shepard outlines the rigid code of masculinity that was considered necessary for successful soldiership and the maintenance of state security in the 1580s and 1590s, and he examines the ways in which Marlowe's works repeatedly suggest, to the contrary, that both masculinity and militarism are inevitably performative per·for·ma·tive  
adj.
Relating to or being an utterance that peforms an act or creates a state of affairs by the fact of its being uttered under appropriate or conventional circumstances, as a justice of the peace uttering
, simply matters of "playing the soldier." In making this argument, Shepard draws not only upon contemporary military handbooks, pamphlets, royal proclamations, and plays, but also upon Judith Butler's theories of gender performance and Klaus Theweleit's study of twentieth-century German soldiers, using the latter to gesture towards suggestive similarities between the "imaginations of modern fascists" and the fantasies of Marlowe's military men (15).

The book as a whole is organized in shape of a parabola, moving from "the apparent endorsement" of hypermilitarism in Tamburlaine to "the apparent repudiation of it in Faustus" (15). Shepard argues, less conventionally, that "Faustus also recants the antitheatrical axioms in Tambulaine and elsewhere that players have nothing to contribute to state security" (15). Tamburlaine is, in his view, marked by an extreme anxiety about performativity; the play's frequent characterization of war as a game is a (not always successful) attempt on the part of Tamburlaine and his men to ward off these anxieties, to "innoculate" themselves against "the Protean pro·te·an
adj.
Readily taking on varied shapes, forms, or meanings.



protean

changing form or assuming different shapes.
 heresy" (36). In Faustus, by contrast, "predatory play" is seen as aggressive action, potentially contributing to national security; both the A and the B texts revel "without perceptible per·cep·ti·ble  
adj.
Capable of being perceived by the senses or the mind: perceptible sounds in the night.



[Late Latin perceptibilis, from Latin perceptus
 irony ... in war fever" and jingoistic sentiments (175). This reading is both the most provocative and the least persuasive of Shepard's analyses. As Shepard is well aware, the oppositions this play sets up insistently collapse into one other: he brushes aside evidence he himself collects that Faustus's playing is just as meretricious--and just as meaningless--as the actions of those he opposes. Indeed, the assessments of the efficacy of play in Faustus and Tamburlaine could equally well (and to my mind, more appropriately) be reversed. But Shepard, who is acutely sensitive to Marlovian ambiguities, seems clearly conscious of these possibilities, and he makes an interesting and carefully nuanced case for his point of view.

Along the way, he presents us with many compelling insights into Marlowe's plays. In a suggestive reading of The Jew of Malta, he proposes that the play explores the links and the conflicts between war and commerce in early modern England, "staging a collision between ancient and contemporary modes of empire" (118). He furthers his critique of heroic masculinity with incisive analysis of Dido and Edward II Edward II, 1284–1327, king of England (1307–27), son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, called Edward of Carnarvon for his birthplace in Wales. The Influence of Gaveston
. And he argues forcefully that the often-reviled Massacre at Paris represents a more subtle and complex response to the events it describes than is generally assumed.

On the whole, this is an intelligent and stimulating book; it should be of interest not only to critics of Marlowe, but to anyone studying the politics--and the sexual politics--of early modern England.

JUDITH HABER

Tufts University Tufts University, main campus at Medford, Mass.; coeducational; chartered 1852 by Universalists as a college for men. It became a university in 1955. Jackson College, formerly a coordinate undergraduate college for women, merged with the College of Liberal Arts in  
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Title Annotation:Reviews
Author:Haber, Judith
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 2004
Words:651
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