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A Fine Madness

A Fine Madness

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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 perfectly poised and breathtakingly suspenseful novel subtly delineates the strands of that life, physical and spiritual, showing how they coalesce in a death that remains mysterious and controversial.