"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf, which would later be called The Harvard Classics." (Via) [more inside]
In the first years of the Fifteenth Century Henry III of Castile sent Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo as his ambassador to Samarkand. His journey introduced him to giraffes and many other sights unknown to Europeans of the time. Samarkand was then the center of the largest empire in the world, that of Tamerlane the Great (a.k.a Timur), the last of the nomad conquerors. His capital began as a city of the Sogdians, which became an important center of culture and trade, as is recorded in these 7th Century wall paintings. Samarkand was refashioned by Timur and his descendants, the most famous being the astronomer Ulugh Beg, and the Timurid legacy is still visible in Samarkand. After Timur's death, his empire disintegrated, and soon fell into decline, but left enough of a mark to inspire both Christopher Marlowe and Edgar Allan Poe. The Russian Empire conquered Samarkand in 1868, and the city was documented in the early 20th Century in color photograhs by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii (this one's a favorite) and remained an out of the way place in the Soviet era.
On the 30th May, 1593, playwright Christopher Marlowe was stabbed in a Deptford tavern. Except, it wasn't a tavern, and all present were known liars. His writing style was very similar to that of early William Shakespeare, whose name first appeared in print very shortly afterwards. [more inside]
Much Ado About Something. Fascinating Salon review of a new documentary investigating whether Shakespeare was really just a front-man for Christopher Marlowe, the true author of all the Bard's work. At first it sounds like just so much literary conspiracy theory, except unlike most conspiracy theories this one seems to gain more credibility the further you delve into it. The film just wrapped up a two- week opening run in New York City, and should be arriving soon at theaters in your area.
Gay Elizabethan Spy and Playwright found murdered! Not one, but two Christopher Marlowe movies. Hollywood, thou art such a suppurating whore. Thanks to Pete for the link.