August 28th, 2016

manga-me

Interesting Links for 28-08-2016

bridget

Death and disability

One of B's housemates died last week. He was 40, and just didn't wake up one morning. Like her, he would have been unable to tell anyone that his tummy felt sore, or his chest felt tight, or his head felt funny, and of course it might not have made a difference anyway. (I assume that the necessary investigations into cause of death have been made, and I don't expect to hear the outcome; we're not his family.)

I went to see B yesterday for the first time since our holiday (and obviously the first time since her housemate died). She was, simply, sad, and wept tears of grief beside me as we walked in the gardens. I'm sure that she knows that a sad thing has happened and that the chap who used to sleep over there isn't there any more; I'm certain that she will have picked up on the mood among the carers, who of course are devastated. The cliche is that autistic people lack empathy; this simply isn't true.

B doesn't do cuddles, but I was glad to be able to take her out for a small change of scene. I drove her to a couple of favourite walking spots but, while she enjoyed the drive, she wasn't interested in leaving the car (this is normal enough if she is feeling under the weather) and then required a lot of persuasion to go back to her house at the end of the trip. Again, I'm not terribly surprised that she wasn't rushing back to the awareness of a new absence.

B's own lifespan should in principle be the same as anyone else's, meaning that she may well outlive us by a couple of decades. On the other hand, she too may miss out on diagnosis of some life-threatening condition because she cannot tell anyone where the sore bit is. Neither of those thoughts really helps me sleep at nights.
marlowe

Dido Queen of Carthage, by Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Nashe

While on holiday, I read the complete plays of Christopher Marlowe, my first encounter directly with his work. It was very interesting; I know Shakespeare to a certain extent (I read/listened to the entire canon a few years ago, starting here), and was struck by both the similarities and the differences between them. Marlowe died, of course, just as Shakespeare was getting started; experts trace several direct references to Marlowe's works in Shakespeare's plays.

I have some general thoughts about Marlowe, but I am going to save them to the end. First, I'm going to write up the six (or seven) surviving plays here, one by one, giving you my conclusions at the end.

I'm starting therefore with:

Dido, Queen of Carthage

Second speech of third scene (Act 2 Scene 1):
ACHATES: Why stands my sweet Æneas thus amaz'd?
This is the first play printed in the Complete Works although it's not clear if it was the first historically performed or written, published only the year after the authors death. Mostly it's a dramatisation of the Dido story from the Æneid, which would have been been well known to the audience (quite a different situation from the other plays where the stories are more original).

But Marlowe (with input from Nashe) bulks up two elements in particular. First, he gives Dido herself lots more to do and say than Virgil did. She is his only strong female protagonist, and although she is hopelessly and irrationally in love with Æneas (who is not such an attractive character here) this is not because she is a weak woman, it is because she is being toyed with by the gods; having been set up in a difficult situation by divine caprice, she otherwise retains agency to the end.

To the core love story, Marlowe adds a number of other romances (again, unlike his other plays and unlike the original story). Most obviously, the play opens by showing us the man/boy relationship between Jupiter and Ganymede. But there are other non-standard relationships too, and I'm struck that Marlowe was not playing them for laughs but as real situations in the terms of the story.

I wasn't able to find any audio or video of Dido online. That seems a shame to me; it's not too complex and I think would be particularly good on audio. It was apparently first written (or at least first performed) by child (=teenage) actors. The Marlowe Society has a good overiew of it here.