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Stephen Fry "quotes" Marlowe, why no klaxon?

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916404.  Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:56 pm Reply with quote

I do love this show, and, being a Shakespeare & Marlowe scholar, I did love this episode. But I was disappointed, dismayed, and disturbed when Stephen Fry brought out Marlowe's supposed line about "tobacco and boys." Among folk familiar with Marlowe's life and works, quoting this line would get the reaction equivalent to a sounding klaxon and a 10-point penalty.

Marlowe has long been associated with the quote "all they that love not tobacco and boys are fools," which is, let's face it, a great line, even if Stephen warped it slightly. The problem is that Marlowe never said it, as far as anyone can prove. The line comes from a note by Richard Baines, an informer who compiled a list of accusations against Marlowe in a document known variously as "the Baines Note" and "the Baines Libel."

The quote-- like the rest of the list-- was meant to be an incriminating indictment of Marlowe's character, and it is thus a lovely irony that it is nowadays repeated with amusement and affection. Still, it's hearsay at best, libel at worst, and exactly the sort of de-contextualized misinformation that QI is usually so good at exposing.

916482.  Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:17 am Reply with quote

I suspect that line was something that Stephen came out with on his own rather than something that was fed to him by the researchers. He's not a robot, you know!

916519.  Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:58 am Reply with quote

Then he should definitely be klaxoned :)

916522.  Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:03 am Reply with quote

Hi, Pumpingirony; welcome to QI.

916624.  Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:54 pm Reply with quote

I didn't for a moment assume that Stephen's comment was supplied by the researchers-- it seemed completely off-the-cuff. But it's exactly the kind of comment that the show (at its best) picks up on and picks apart in order to communicate the accurate facts behind the misconception.

And thanks for the welcome!

Also, curse you, Jenny, for instilling in my brain the notion of the FryBot. Now I want one! When will they be available in stores?

916631.  Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:25 pm Reply with quote

I think the elves still have some tweaking to do...

You can buy an alarm clock with Stephen Fry's voice doing his Jeeves impression though. I won't provide a link as it's a commercial product but it's easily found by searching.

916634.  Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:28 pm Reply with quote

A couple of months ago, as a centenary celebration of Alan Turing, there was a twitter contest in Scottish schools to identify sources of tweets, and it included several famous people like His Fryness and Sarah Brown, as well as chatbots and teachers, and about 40% of Stephen's tweets were guessed by kids as having come from a chatbot, so perhaps he's not as human as we all believed :)

Considering the collection of questions and answers we have from the transcripts, and I guess plenty of others prepared by the elves and not gone into the show, as well as many that sppear on these forums, I suppose a Qi chatbot could be made if someone's got the time and patience...


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