No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

2017/07: A Dead Man in Deptford -- Anthony Burgess

— Listen to me, Kit said, and he knew, saying it, that the me to which he referred was one of a parcel of many within, and he felt a manner of despair or at least desperateness in not knowing well which was to speak.

Reread, for a paper on Christopher Marlowe in Historical Fiction that I was unable to give (due to ill health) at the Historical Fiction Research Network conference. My original review from 2006 is here.

This is an incredibly dense and intricate novel: I was lucky to be able to immerse myself completely in it for a day. On this reading, I think I understood more of Burgess's perspective on Kit's character, and (having been reading a fair amount of Marlowe biography) I was able to appreciate just how cleverly Burgess joins up the facts with credible motivations and human frailties. Burgess' Marlowe is a poet as well as a spy, a man who wants nothing to do -- sexually, at least -- with women, a man who finds his luck turning against him and his old allies becoming foes. Very little Shakespeare here, and no miraculous spiriting-away from Deptford. A masterful and demanding novel.

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