Abbildungen der Seite


Date. The position of Doctor Faustus as the immediate successor of Tamburlaine in the series of Marlowe's works is well established by the testimony of metre and dramatic structure. External evidence verifies the conclusions of literary criticism and points with tolerable certainty to the winter of 1588/9 as the date of the play's completion. The allusions to the fiery keele at Antwarpes bridge' (1. 124) and to the Duke of Parma as oppressor of the Netherlands (1. 121) determine the extreme limits of composition-1585 and 1590 respectively. A more exact terminus a quo is furnished by the date of the second part of Tamburlaine, which belongs almost certainly to 1588, and presumably to the earlier part of the year. On the other hand, it is probable from what we know of the procedure of ballad writers of the time that the 'ballad of the life and deathe of Doctor Ffaustus the great Cungerer', which was licensed on the last day of February, 1588/9 was inspired by the successful production of the play, and it is practically certain that the latter must have been acted before November 6, 1589, when the company which produced it had been silenced by the Lord Mayor on complaint of the Master of the Revels.1

Stage history and early editions. Henslowe's Diary mentions twenty-four performances of Doctor Faustus by the Lord Admiral's Company between September 30, 1594, and January 5, 1596/7. In October, 1597, it was produced once again by the Lord Admiral's and Lord Pembroke's players in conjunction, this time apparently without any profits. The first recorded presentation, however, brought Henslowe in the unusually large sum of £3 12s., from which, as well as from the number of performances, it must be inferred that the piece was then a novelty, though Henslowe does not mark it as a 'new' play. The probability is that it had been acted during 1589, till the inhibition of the players, and was next brought before the public five

1 Cf. Collier, Hist. Eng. Dram. Poetry, 1879, I, 264, 5.

years later, when the Admiral's men reappeared in London, in 1594, with Henslowe as their manager.

On January 7, 1600 1, ‘a booke called the plaie of Doctor Faustus' was entered for publication by Thomas Bushell, and it is likely that an edition was issued the same year, though no copy is apparently extant. All the early editions of Faustus are of excessive rarity. The oldest now known was published by Bushell in 1604, a unique copy being preserved in the Bodleian. Under date of September 13, 1610, the Stationers' Register records the transfer of copyright in Doctor Faustus from Bushell to John Wright, who had already in 1609 published an edition of the play, now known from two exemplars, and who issued the next six editions, dated respectively 1611, 1616, 1619, 1620, 1624, 1631. the last-named texts all except that of 1631 appear to exist in unique copies. In 1663 the play was again published, this time in an excessively maimed and corrupted state.

Text and Authorship. The quartos of 1604-31 present Faustus in two very different shapes. The more original type is represented by the editions of 1604, 1609, and 1611; those of 1616 to 1631 offer a text which has been amplified to the extent of one-half the original, while the old matter has been in some cases omitted, and in others completely recast. With the question of the relation of the two texts is bound up the further question, What part of each version is to be ascribed to Marlowe ? Both points have been much discussed, and the credible evidence is too scanty to justify dogmatic assertion. There seems, however, at present to be small warrant for the belief that the 1616 edition contains any matter by Marlowe not found in the earlier versions, with the exception of a few single lines (e.g. 835, 836), which may have been in the problematical 1601 text, and were possibly omitted by the negligence of the compositor of the 1604 edition. The other changes of the later texts which consist in the bowdlerizing of certain atheistical' passages, the addition of a number of crude scenes taken mostly from the prose Faustbook, and the expansion of a few brief speeches into longer passages of tolerable blank verse-all these changes are sufficiently accounted for by Henslowe's memorandum of the payment of £4 on November 22, 1602, to William Birde and Samuel Rowley' for ther adicyones in doctor fostes'. Four pounds is most ample payment, at Henslowe's rate, for all the new passages in the 1616 edition, and there appears to

be nothing in any of these passages, with the exception of the few scattered lines already referred to,1 which is beyond the capacity of Rowley, or suggests the authorship of Marlowe.

The text of 1604-11 is almost certainly that prepared for publication, and perhaps published, by Thomas Bushell in 1601, before Birde and Rowley's alterations had been made. The views of nearly all critics concerning this earlier text appear to have been coloured, perhaps unconsciously, by the well-known forgery in Henslowe's Diary, which professes to record a payment to Dekker in 1597 for additions to Faustus. It is morally certain that no such additions were made at that time, and there seems no reason to imagine that the 1604 text is anything else than Marlowe's original version of 1588/9, debased by a dozen years of theatrical manipulation and by careless printing. The blank verse is occasionally faulty, and it is very likely that some of the comic matter, like that omitted by the publisher of Tamburlaine (cf. p. 7, ll. 8 ff.), represents the improvisation of the company's clown. It is evident enough, for example, that the author of 11. 994-6 totally failed to understand Marlowe's conception of the effects of conjuring as Mephistopheles explains it in 11. 281-9. Yet with all its corruptions the text of 1604 is probably the most faithful representative extant of Marlowe's manuscript, and it is the principle of the present editor to follow that edition, relegating to an Appendix the probably spurious additions and revisions of 1616.

The edition of 1663 varies greatly from all the others, and has no authority. Several weak comic insertions appear, the most notable being in large measure plagiarized from the Jew of Malta.2 This edition carries to a ridiculous degree the prudery of the version of 1616-31. Lines and phrases alluding to the deity, to eternal punishment, or to religious scepticism are ruthlessly expunged. It may well be that the text was prepared for acting by strolling companies during the Commonwealth period. We know that Mucedorus and other plays were so acted in defiance of Puritan regulations, and such an origin would account for the extraordinary efforts of the editor to remove all moral grounds of offence.

For proof of the occasional superiority of the 1616 readings, cf. F. S. Boas, Taming of a Shrew, (1908), pp. 91, 92.

Source. The material out of which Marlowe constructed his tragedy of Doctor Faustus comes ultimately from the German Faustbuch, or 'Historia von D. Johann Fausten', published at Frankfort-on-the-Main by Johann Spies in 1587. The particular channel through which Marlowe became acquainted with the story has been the subject of much debate; it has been argued both that he knew the original German text and that his information was drawn from the verbal reports of actors newly returned from theatrical tours in Germany. It seems now certain, however, that Marlowe's only source was an English translation of the 1587 Faustbuch, published probably in 1588. It is true that no copy of so early an edition of the translation has so far been discovered, but the earliest extant issue— that of 1592-bears a very close resemblance to Marlowe's text, and is shown not to be the editio princeps by the words on the title page: 'Newly imprinted, and in conuenient places imperfect matter amended.' Further proof of the same point has been collected by Dr. H. Logeman.1

The English translation was used not only by Marlowe himself, but also by the elaborators of the 1616 text. The play, however, contains much for which the translation. furnished no suggestion. Thus the good and evil angels are an addition of Marlowe, and only the barest hint for the mask of the seven deadly sins can be found in the prose history.

The Stationers' Register, under date of October 16, 1609, records the transfer of copyright in a work called 'Doctor Ffaustus the 2 parte' from Mistress Burby to Master Welby. Nothing appears to be known of the book in question. As a sequel to the play of Faustus is hardly imaginable, it is probable that the title is that of one of the numerous continuations of the Faustus-Wagner history.

1 The English Faust-Book of 1592, Introduction, p. xv.



History of D. Fauftus.

As it hath bene Acted by the Right Honorable the Earl of Nottingham his feruants.

[merged small][graphic][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »