Tuesday, March 31, 2009

1500 to 1599: Montaigne to Dr. Faustus

Michel de Montaigne. French. 1580/88. Essays. Created the personal, discursive essay. Spirited conversation. From classic stoic to skeptic to affirmation of the possibilities of human nature. Used his own experience to glean lessons. Turned attention from academic learning and intellectual theorizing to man himself.

Michel de Montaigne. French. 1580/88. Essay. “Apology for Raymond Sebond.” Fullest expression of Montaigne’s skeptical philosophy. He asserts the relativity of knowledge. He reacts to the excessive faith in reason of the early Renaissance. Prepared him to search for wisdom based not on intellectual speculation but o his own experience.

Robet Garnier. French. 1582. Play. Bradamante. Combat between the knight Roger and the warrior-maiden Bradamante. Roger’s dilemma is in choosing between love and duty.

Thomas Kyd. British. 1584/89. Play. The Spanish Tragedy. Revenge. Spanish vs. Portuguese. Lures maidens into parts in a play and kills them.

Christopher Marlowe. British. 1587. Play. Tamburlaine the Great. Shepherd becomes bandit and finally king of Persia. In Part I, Tamburlaine is the embodiment of the Renaissance; bold, defiant, eager to explore the possibilities of life. In Part II, his lust for power and his cruelty end in ruin.

Christopher Marlowe. British. 1588. Play. The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. Yearning for the infinite. Seeker after power through knowledge. One feels sympathy for the boundless longings of the hero.

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