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cyberalchemist (Glebe, NSW Australia)

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History Play: The Lives and After-life of Christopher Marlowe
History Play: The Lives and After-life of Christopher Marlowe
by Rodney Bolt
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars muddled, 22 April 2008
I'm not quite sure what to make of this book. The author openly fakes data, making reference to books and manuscripts that do not exist and creates characters for which there is no evidence. Therefore the book is valueless as a biography of Marlowe and unconvincing in its argument that Marlowe wrote Shakespeare's plays.

For me the point of books like this is the ingenuity of their argument and the light they cast on by-ways of Elizabethan and Jacobean life. Given that you cannot trust any indivual assertion the author makes and he can make up anything he wants, then it exhibits little ingenuity and casts little light. If the book was openly fiction and simply a novelisation of Marlowe becoming Shakespear then it would possibly read better but, as it is, it reads with the ponderousness of bad non-fiction.

Possibly the author is attempting to found a new genre, but its not a good enough example for me to hope that there will be more of them.

The Ripper Diary
The Ripper Diary
by Seth Linder
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars not really about the diary, 17 Aug. 2006
This review is from: The Ripper Diary (Hardcover)
This books deserves three stars, because it is better than the average JtheR book and what it does it does well. However it does not do what most people will expect. It does not really have that much presentation of the case for or against the 'Ripper Diaries' (which despite the claims of a reviewer below is not a dead issue in many quarters). Sometimes the authors will quote someone as pointing out historical errors in the diary, but not say what they are etc. It would not surprise me if that was because some people in this case are wary about copyright issues. On the other hand, if they get confused about the ink dating, that is because it is confusing and so on.

What they do do extremely well, is tell the story of the people around the diary. Frankly if you read about these activities in a novel you would not believe them. There is the alcholic 'finder' of the diary, who constantly changes his mind about whether he forged it or not, gives different accounts of that forging, and has a literary style miles away from the diary; there is the crazed investigator who brings misery and sadness to all who encounter him, looses masses of money and invents truly bizzare theories; there is the wife (now ex-wife) of the finder, who later claims the dairy belonged to her father, and who might possibly be a descendent of the person who killed Maybrick (the ripper suspect) or who might have forged the diary herself but took little to no money from it; there is the anti-dairy fanatic, who proposes his own solution to the ripper question which is not believed by many (to put it mildly) and who demands much higher standards of evidence from pro-diary people than he does from himself. There are fights in bookshops, fanatics, unfair dealings, allegations of fraud, possible films, struggles between publishers, a ripper watch, suspicions of murder and so on. The diary is surrounded by self destructive activities on all sides of opinion.

I'd say its all close to breathtaking. But no solution. The definitive book on the ripper diaries as evidence has still to be written, but it cannot ignore this background.

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