Bruce's Reviews > A Dead Man in Deptford

A Dead Man in Deptford by Anthony Burgess
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's review
Jul 16, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Recommended for: patient readers; language nerds
Read in August, 2009

Patience and focus are required for this fictional rendering of the life of Christopher Marlowe. Burgess, using his version of Elizabethan English, has created a fascinating and atmospheric novel that gives a hair-raising impression of life under what was apparently the paranoid regime of Elizabeth I. Put aside your cinematic impressions of Elizabeth (i.e. Glenda Jackson or Cate Blanchett) --- this, I suspect, is a more nearly accurate portrayal of an era where fabricated evidence, often extracted under torture, was used to justify public executions, where the skill of the hangman was judged by how long he could keep the victim hovering between life and death --- all in the name of preserving the monarch's rule and of maintaining religious purity.

The plot presents a plausible explanation about the death of Marlowe, so often considered in the shadow of Shakespeare, and so in a sense the book is a murder mystery --- but one like you've never read. The playful and inventive language requires close attention, but the effort is very rewarding.
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Quotes Bruce Liked

Anthony Burgess
“Blessed tree and blessed birds, that were to be neither saved nor damned.”
Anthony Burgess, A Dead Man in Deptford


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07/28/2009 page 10
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