Tamburlaine the Great, Part One and Part Two are the first plays that Christopher Marlowe wrote for London’s then new freestanding, open-air public playhouses. They trace the progress of Tamburlaine, a Central Asian leader, as he “scourge[s] kingdoms with his conquering sword” and rises to imperial power. The plays were a powerful beginning to Marlowe’s brief career as a public theatre dramatist: the brutally masculine and martial main character immediately captured audiences, and the plays were widely imitated and parodied. Even four hundred years later, Marlowe’s Tamburlaine remains a shocking and seductive figure.
The introduction and historical appendices to this new Broadview Edition provide many avenues for readers to understand these plays, presenting other portrayals of Islam from the period, related lives of Tamburlaine from other writers, and material on Marlowe’s scandalous reputation.
“Mathew R. Martin’s edition of Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great, Part One and Part Two has everything one needs to ensure these powerful plays come alive in the undergraduate classroom: a clear and wonderfully annotated text, a lively yet erudite introduction, and a treasure trove of contextual materials. While other editions routinely refer students to key historical documents such as the Richard Baines letter, this edition offers a wealth of materials that can open the door to a sophisticated understanding of Marlowe’s appeal. In addition to sources attesting to Marlowe’s outsized reputation even in his day, the edition includes materials that will help students grasp the complexity of these dramas, such as early accounts of the historical Temur and a well-chosen archive of documents revealing early modern English views of Islam. Supplementing such historical documents is a brilliant collection of literary ‘intertexts’—excerpts from Jonson, Middleton, and others that will help students understand both Marlowe’s trailblazing aesthetic sensibility and the plays’ extraordinary afterlife. This is a first-rate edition and I very much look forward to using it in the classroom.” — Patricia Cahill, Emory University
“Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine plays had a profound impact on the literary and dramatic culture of Elizabethan England. Mathew R. Martin’s new edition draws upon a wide range of recent scholarship, and the editor’s own extensive research, to recover the forms of that initial impact. Martin’s detailed introduction presents us with the awe-inspiring conqueror in all his bloody pomp and glorious contradictions: a Scythian warlord who came to embody a particularly English sense of the world. In this edition Martin boldly overturns editorial convention to make the third Octavo edition of 1597 his copytext, with striking and provocative results. The combination of an expansive introduction, rigorous textual scholarship and careful collation, and a thorough and varied collection of primary-source appendices makes this a valuable and engaging edition, worthy of Marlowe’s extraordinary creation.” — Matthew Dimmock, University of Sussex
“Matthew R. Martin has prepared a solid undergraduate-level edition of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great: Part One and Part Two for Broadview Press. In addition to a comprehensive introduction, Martin provides appendices that include a selection of documents concerning early modern perceptions of Islam and the East.” —Kevin Curran, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900