Inferior Readings: The Transmigration of 'Material' in Tamburlaine the Great

  • Mathew R Martin Brock University
Keywords: Christopher Marlowe, editing, early modern English drama


The shaping hand of the modern tradition of editing the Tamburlaine plays suppresses the unruly materialism of the two plays in order to discipline their textual bodies, to impose upon them a pattern of meaning that, curiously for such blasphemous texts, tends towards abstraction and spirituality. The 1597 Marlowe, admittedly as much a figment of the imagination as the author who in 1590 presumably handed a manuscript to Richard Jones, might be skeptical. Marlowe’s ghost—or, more precisely, his 'corrupt' textual remains buried in the 1597 edition of Tamburlaine the Great—offers a spurious, fictional, and definitely erring authority to the unearthing or unleashing of the plays’ materialism.

Author Biography

Mathew R Martin, Brock University
Mathew R. Martin ( is full professor in the department of English language and literature at Brock University. He is currently editing Tamburlaine the Great Parts One and Two for Broadview Press, for whom he has also edited Edward the Second, The Jew of Malta, and Doctor Faustus.