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Shakespeare's Edward III: An Early Play Restored to the Canon Hardcover – 31 Jul 1996


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (31 July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300066260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300066265
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,356,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jacques COULARDEAU on 2 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Eric Sams does a very good job in this book with the line by line notes and the exegesis of the play itself. The debate about the author of the play is interesting and well presented, though the accusation of plagiarism for some other plays, like Ironside is for me slightly exaggerated. There are at times some things that go around and can be found in many works. That is not plagiarism even if it is not very creative.

This play is in the nationalistic line of Elizabethan theater. It is a play that is supposed to laud King Edward III and the Black Prince, Edward Prince of Wales in their campaign in France (the beginning of the 100 years war).

Apart from the second act which deals with the tentative sexual approach of the Countess, wife of Salisbury, to obtain the feudal right of a king to possess the wives of his vassals, the whole play turns around the sole military campaign and the Sluys, Crécy, Poitiers and Calais battles. In those battles the King as well as the Prince are shown as being gallant and generous. The Prince is shown as being a good tactician who defeats the French in spite of their superiority in number.

The feudal second act is surprising in many ways though it shows clearly that in Elizabethan times and probably already in the 14th century, feudal rights were definitely wearing out or starting to wear out. The Countess traps the King in a promise he cannot hold: to kill his own wife and then the Countess would kill her own husband who is living in her heart: in other words one way or the other the King will not have the Countess. He gallantly, though his previous demand was not very gallant, steps back.
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By David Twigg-flesner on 22 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent scholarship
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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Black Prince, A Lucifer of Light 2 Mar. 2011
By Jacques COULARDEAU - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Eric Sams does a very good job in this book with the line by line notes and the exegesis of the play itself. The debate about the author of the play is interesting and well presented, though the accusation of plagiarism for some other plays, like Ironside is for me slightly exaggerated. There are at times some things that go around and can be found in many works. That is not plagiarism even if it is not very creative.

This play is in the nationalistic line of Elizabethan theater. It is a play that is supposed to laud King Edward III and the Black Prince, Edward Prince of Wales in their campaign in France (the beginning of the 100 years war).

Apart from the second act which deals with the tentative sexual approach of the Countess, wife of Salisbury, to obtain the feudal right of a king to possess the wives of his vassals, the whole play turns around the sole military campaign and the Sluys, Crécy, Poitiers and Calais battles. In those battles the King as well as the Prince are shown as being gallant and generous. The Prince is shown as being a good tactician who defeats the French in spite of their superiority in number.

The feudal second act is surprising in many ways though it shows clearly that in Elizabethan times and probably already in the 14th century, feudal rights were definitely wearing out or starting to wear out. The Countess traps the King in a promise he cannot hold: to kill his own wife and then the Countess would kill her own husband who is living in her heart: in other words one way or the other the King will not have the Countess. He gallantly, though his previous demand was not very gallant, steps back.

As for the battles, the bloody violence of that war is described properly but the battles systematically, concerning the Black Prince, are shown as unwinnable and then like due to some kind of miracle the battle is won. A flock of Ravens causes the flight of the French forces in Poitiers. And what's more the French King and one of his sons are made prisoners and taken to England to discuss the terms of the truce. And the Black Prince is reported to have said: "It was agreed that we should take our way, flanking them, in such a manner that if they wished for battle or to draw towards us, in a place not very much to our disadvantage, we should be the first ... the enemy was discomfited, and the king was taken, and his son; and a great number of other great people were both taken and slain."

We all know the last line "three kings two princes and a queen" and of course it is slightly arranged since the King of Scotland was made a prisoner and brought to Calais for the occasion that is in no way historical. It is all the more important to have those six persons here because it is the reflected image of the six bourgeois of Calais that have been humiliated and finally released just in time not to be put to the sword.

There is though one thing that is missing for this play to be complete. Nowhere do we find any comic character. So there is no funny wit in the play. Even the very nationalistic Henry V had the funny Falstaff to dynamize the humor of the play. Romeo had his Mercutio and many other tragedies or histories had such a clown or buffoon, even if only in the shape of the skull of Yorick. None of these here.

What remains is the lauding chants addressed to the Black Prince in a context of clemency and generosity. The French King being made a prisoner and ransomed to the extreme will die in captivity. And yet the English King will not conquer France. One battle is not the whole war that was to last one hundred years.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
An impressive examination of an apocryphal play. 22 Jun. 2012
By L. Power - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I originally borrowed this as a library book, and impressed, looked to buy it on Amazon. I would encourage you to read this book and shop for the best deal.

I was sorry to learn that the author Eric Sams had passed away in 2004.

Edward III, first published anonymously in 1596 has lurked in the nether world of anonymous aprocryphal plays, until accepted into the Second Oxford edition in 2005, the year after Sams death. It also appears in the Riverside edition.

Sams contributions on this subject as detailed in this book, are detailed, comprehensive, and intriguing. He details that he did correspond with Wells and Taylor, Wells particularly, yet Wells and Taylor do not acknowledge Sams contribution in any way in their Second edition.

Their investigation as detailed in that edition appears to be entirely subjective. One major gap is checking to see if this play was written by Marlowe. The linguistic tests conducted by them show that Edward 2, written by Marlowe had consistent results with the early Henry VI plays. Why did they not check to see if Marlowe was a cowriter, and give him credit, if so? Many of the early Shakespeare scholars such as Malone concluded that early plays attributed to Shakespeare were written by Marlowe, or substantially by Marlowe.

Even if one believes that Marlowe was murdered in 1593, as many as 10 of the plays attributed to Shakespeare may have been written by Marlowe. Shakespeare's name did not appear on a play until 1598, five years after Marlowe's death, though many of thes plays were published anonymously in the interim.

Yet Wells consistently refuses to acknowledge Marlowe's influence in any way, and hedges his bets by acknowledging other writers were involved and that Shakespeare wrote Scenes 2, 3, 12, and possibly 13 out of the 18 scenes in the play. Hardly a ringing recommendation.

Edward II in the play by Marlowe, was the father of Edward III, published in 1594, so why would not an investigation start logically with determining whether or not the two plays are connected. E II does appear as a child in that play. Marlowe linked his plays by alluding to them in his other works, and that is present here. Both plays allude to Hero and Leander, Marlowe's poem about which he obsessed. A character named Lightborne assassinated Edward II and he makes a similar wordplay on the word lightborne in E III. A character named Piers Gaveston appears in Edward II, and E III features a similar wordplay on Piers and Peers. There are allusions to several other Marlowe plays.

Robert Greene in Francescos Fortunes 1590 alludes to Ned Alleyn as the cobblers crow, and asks not to disdain his tutor who taught him how to say 'Ave Caesar' in a Kings chamber. Marlowe, a cobblers son, was referred to as a cobbler by at least four contemporary writers. Marlowe was from Canterbury and Edward III is buried in Canterbury Cathedral.

The exact quote is: 'Why Roscius, art thou proud with Esops Crow, being pract with the glorie of others feathers? Of thy selfe thou canst say nothing, and if the Cobler hath taught thee to say Ave Caesar, disdain not thy tutor because thou pratest in a kings Chamber.'

No other Shakespeare play features the words Ave Caesar, and in the play it is stated in a Kings Chamber. Other plays such as Spanish Tragedy, and an early version of Hamlet have been attributed to Kyd on single uncorroborated references no stronger than this.

E III, is a beautifully written play, written by a highly skilled poetic author. I found the King's infatuation with the Countess of Salisbury to be quite the exercise in rhetoric. At the beginning he is inspired by her, and he instructs a poet on how to write love poetry. This is a poetic masterclass yielding some beautiful lyrical passages. Then he turns dark and attempts to have his way her through Machiavellian scheming. She, uses her own powers of rhetoric to resolve the situation. The woman being subjected to the will of the tyrant is a motif repeated in Marlowe plays such as Tamburlaine, where it occurs several times.

In addition to the play I found Sams research mostly impeccable particularly the new words coined in this play according to the OED. He does not mention Edward II in the index, so he has not read that play to exclude it.
Nevertheless as work of scholarship, if not necessarily investigation this is an outstanding work.

He mentions another apocryphal play Shakespeare's "Edmund Ironside": The Lost Play, which appears to be a prototype for plays such as Titus Andronicus, again rejected by many early scholars such as Malone, as being by Shakespeare, who credits Henry VI to Marlowe as does Tucker Brooke. I also bought Sams book on this play which I found very intriguing. The character of Edricus is a Machiavellian character we see come to full fruition on Richard III, again whom earlier Shakespeare scholars attribute to Marlowe.

I agree with his assessment that the hand that wrote E III wrote Ironside, and the anonymous Henry VI plays. I side with the likes of Malone, Fleay, Wraight and Brooke, in their view. Whatever your view, these plays are well worth a read.
Excellent book ... 28 Jun. 2013
By Barklestork - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book contains the complete script of "Edward III", as well as an introductory essay, synopsis, notes and appendixes.

The author/editor of this book, Eric Sams, makes a strong case for the inclusion of "Edward III" into the cannon of works by Shakespeare. The evidence is clearly laid out, the reasoning explained, and the reader follows along, considers the clues, weighs the evidence, decides the case, and is pleasantly astonished by the richness of this reading experience.

The Elizabethan script itself is very easy to read. And the unfolding sexual scandal keeps you hooked. It's well told in a sophisticated and eloquent manner, even when things get tawdry or go terribly wrong.

Almost all of the characters, express themselves with a wonderful intelligence. Of course that may not be realism, but it is rewarding to be the fly on the wall and hear how deftly the words go back and forth, as the conflicts are grappled over. The play has a funny and sharply satiric sense of humor that makes you smile, and I think might make you laugh out loud during performance.
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