By Harry Blamires

`It is sweet to work out a reprint and whole updating of this recognized historic journey de strength, with its proof of huge studying and actually millions of valuable facts.' - instances academic complement

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    With the work of Christopher Marlowe (1564–93), however, we reach a far higher level of theatrical skill and accomplishment. The grandeur is grandly heralded in the prologue to Tamburlaine the Great, which was performed in about 1587: From jigging veins of rhyming mother-wits, And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay, We’ll lead you to the stately tent of war… The play was such a success that a sequel was written, Tamburlaine Part 2. The two do not form a cunningly structured drama, but present 44 A Short History of English Literature a succession of adventures.

    O, my bum will break’, cries Ambidexter at the end. ’ 4 Elizabethan drama (Shakespeare and his predecessors) The English literature of the Elizabethan and Jacobean Ages is one of the great phenomena of European culture. The period was one of immense and concentrated literary activity. Nor did the activity end with the death of James I, convenient as that may be as a dividing line, for the work of the Cavalier poets as well as Paradise Lost was to follow. If we consider what was written in English between the birth of Spenser in 1552 and the death of Milton in 1674 we find ourselves confronted by a great concourse of major and minor writers of astonishing variety.

    Listen to Hodge: My guts they yawl-crawl, and all my belly rumbleth, The puddings cannot lie still, each one over other tumbleth. A parallel development in tragedy was marked by the acting of Gorboduc at the Inner Temple in 1561. Regarded as ‘the first English tragedy’, it was the fruit of a collaboration between Thomas Norton (1532–84), who wrote the first three acts, and Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset (1536–1608), who wrote the last two acts. The play is modelled on Seneca and thus matches Udall’s imitation of Plautus and Terence: indeed the action takes place offstage and is then presented to the audience in narration.

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