What's the original text of Marlowe's devils?
February 21, 2017 7:30 PM   Subscribe

My question is from "The Third Man", written by Green. "He's never grown up.Marlowe's devils wore squibs attached to their tails;" I'd like to check the original text. I know that it's from "The Doctor Faustus", but I can't find exact act(and scene) number. Can I read them on the internet?
posted by mizukko to Writing & Language (2 answers total)
There aren't any act/scene headers, but you can find mention of "squibs" in the text between notes 129 and 130.
posted by xenization at 8:29 PM on February 21, 2017

Yeah, the one explicit reference to "squibs" in any text of the play is in a stage direction to scene 9 in the 1604 quarto, which is apparently a false start in Marlowe's manuscript included in error by the printer: "Enter Mephistopheles, sets squibs at their backs. They run about." But that's not actually a reference to the devils in the play wearing squibs attached to their tails: Mephistopheles is setting off fireworks to scare Robin, Ralph, and the Vintner.

I think what Green is probably referring to is in scene 5 of the 1604 text, where Mephistopheles conjures up a female devil after Faustus asks: "let me have a wife, the fairest maid in Germany, for I am wanton and lascivious, and cannot live without a wife." This is followed shortly afterwards by this stage direction:
Enter Mephistophilis with a devil dressed like a woman, with fire works.
Perhaps an edition of the play Green read explained in a note that this effect would've been accomplished by the actor wearing "squibs" attached to his clothing? Perhaps he somehow conflated the two scenes?

See here for a list of all the probable props used in the original staging of the play, including pyrotechnics.
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:12 AM on February 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

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