Hellish Falls: Faustus's Dismemberment, Phaeton's Limbs and Other Renaissance Aviation Disasters—Part II

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    Abstract

    The first part of this essay (published in a previous issue of English Studies) grounded Marlowe's Doctor Faustus in the grisly history of Renaissance aviation. This continuation instead situates Marlowe's tragedy alongside other “Icarian” plays in the Admiral's repertoire that likely featured vertical ascents followed by horrific falls. While Part I spotlighted the links between Faustus and the failed aviators Icarus, Lucifer and Simon Magus, Part II reveals how Faustus's death evokes the flight disasters and subsequent dismemberments of Bladud and Phaeton—both of whom apparently featured in lost plays at the Rose. In presenting Faustus's “mangled limbs” on stage, the Admiral's Men would likely have recycled “Faetones lymes”, listed in Henslowe's property inventory. Phaeton's death could thus have provided an important literary and theatrical antecedent for the staging of Faustus's “hellish fall”. Collectively, these two articles hold a candle to the repertorial practices of the Admiral's Men, while showing how Repertory Studies can illuminate new dimensions of familiar plays like Faustus.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)351-361
    Number of pages11
    JournalEnglish Studies
    Volume97
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2016

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