1. 'the 1604 Text of Doctor Faustus Is Closer to the Play Which Marlowe Originally Wrote; the 1616 Text Is Contaminated by Theatrical Additions.'

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Date Submitted: 12/23/2011 04:24 AM

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Born in Canterbury in 1564, Christopher Marlowe was a playwright along with being an actor and poet during the reign of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. Marlowe lived a life of ambiguity and uncertainty which is reflected in his play Doctor Faustus, which may have been written in 1592 although the exact date of its composition is indefinite. No original copy of the play survived and was only published after his death in 1593. As a result of this, Doctor Faustus is not one unified text but instead published as two different editions, thus reflecting the uncertainty and elusiveness of Marlowe’s life. Both editions of the play will be explored in order to expose which text is closer to the play which Marlowe originally wrote.

The first of the two editions was published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe’s death and is identified as the A-text. It has been claimed that it was written by two actors that participated in Marlowe’s play, and wrote it from their own knowledge and memory of the play. The second edition of the play is identified as B-text, which was published twelve years after the first edition in 1616. It has more authenticity towards Marlowe’s original text as it is the composite of the original. B-text had influence from the main source ‘foul papers’ which were the original drafts of the scene that were destroyed. Taking into consideration that A-text had no solid source of originality beside memory the composition of this edition has less authenticity than B-text.

The A-text has fewer sentences and scenes in comparison to the B-text, thus making it convenient and easier for the actors when touring. As the A-text is written from memory, the influence of the actors has made the 1604 edition less original, thus allowing Greg to argue that the A-text ‘contains a corrupt and debased report of the play as finally revised and acted’. Greg is defended further by Kirschbaum who suggests that “the 1604 text of Dr Faustus is a bad quarto; and that this bad quarto...