A Fine Madness
Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare’s exact contemporary and sometime collaborator, was the leading playwright of his day whose dramatic verse and themes – political power, the power of love and the route to damnation – transformed English theatre. His Doctor Faustus was the first great dramatic rendering of the Faust legend. Probably an atheist, probably a spy and possibly gay, he lived and wrote as a literary Caravaggio until killed in a knife-fight he had himself provoked, aged 29. Alan Judd’s poised and suspenseful novel subtly delineates the strands of that life, physical and spiritual, showing how they coalesce in a death that remains mysterious and controversial.