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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: October ::
Eric Sams / Edward III
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1814  Monday, 4 October 2004

[1]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Oct 2004 10:35:35 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1801 Eric Sams / Edward III

[2]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Oct 2004 17:42:31 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1801 Eric Sams / Edward III

[3]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Oct 2004 23:59:59 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1801 Eric Sams / Edward III


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Oct 2004 10:35:35 EDT
Subject: 15.1801 Eric Sams / Edward III
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1801 Eric Sams / Edward III

I did not know Eric Sams personally. It is sad that he has passed on --
any man's [or woman's] death diminishes me. Nonetheless, a balanced
assessment of his scholarly work is more appropriate than a
whitewashing. Let neither the evil nor the good be interred with his
bones. [All right, enough with the para-quotes...]

Edward III -- of course the argument for Shakespeare's involvement with
this play long precedes Eric Sams.  It seems to me it is of a piece with
the Henry VI trilogy [structurally, texturally, textually, etc] -- some
parts of it seem pretty clearly Shakespearean, and other parts pass as
"well I guess that's what WS sounded like coming up".  Impressionism is
rightly to be regarded with suspicion, but the Countess scenes seem to
me palpably to be in Shakespeare's "voice", as are for example the
Temple Garden scene in 1 Henry VI and Gloucester's long speeches in 3
Henry VI. Most of the rest of Edward III and at least part of the rest
of the Henry VI plays -- not so much. I guess that's what he sounded
like coming up?

His voice -- it is because the last three acts of Pericles sounded so
much like Shakespeare that it long ago found a place in the canon, as
did not the other non-Folio plays that had once been published under his
name. You can hear it in the Three Pages of Sir Thomas More, but it is
absent from A Funeral Elegy. But because thinking that one hears that
voice is a very subjective thing, it is necessary that one's judgment be
supported by other evidence: external, internal, linguistic,
statistical, structural, literary, etc -- but good evidence. As has been
pointed out by St. Clare Byrne, Schoenbaum and others, a mountain of
poor evidence is still poor evidence, no matter how enormous the mountain.

Michael Egan's exclusion of Robert Greene from candidacy for the
authorship of Edward III is presumably based on a belief that Edward III
[published in 1596] must have been written after 1592. I'm not making an
argument that it *is* that early-- I just think that its date of
composition is more than we know for certain. It certainly seems to be
similar in many ways to the Henry VI plays, all of which it is agreed
were written by the end of 1592.

Edmund Ironside -- I just don't hear the voice, but that's not all. I've
read Sams' books, some years ago. While he makes some telling
observations [probably explainable by Shakespeare's influence on its
author or vice versa], most of the literary and linguistic evidence he
offers is not really evidence of identity of authorship, but is instead
a mountain of Elizabethan commonplaces and common influences. As I
recall it, he spends a fair amount of time railing at people who don't
agree with him, and suggesting that there is an academic conspiracy
aimed at excluding his views. He takes poor Boas to task for changing
his guess at Ironside's date from 'c1590' [which fits Sams' views] to
'c1590-1600' [which opens up the question of the date too far for his
liking].

Unlike the case for Shakespearean authorship of Edward III, the case for
Edmund Ironside has not met with general acceptance. But this is not the
result of a conspiracy to exclude Sams' views -- it's just that his
arguments are not ultimately convincing. Donald Foster in a review of
Sams' book [in ShQ I think-- I don't have the ref right here] gives
reasons to believe that Robert Greene and perhaps Thomas Nashe may have
been involved in Edmund Ironside. My own incomplete work on it from some
years ago found a number of parallels and similarities with the works of
Nashe. I'm not pushing this too hard -- at the very least it needs a lot
more research -- but it seemed to me at the time that what I saw was at
least as good [ok-- better] than the similarities Sams found with the
works of Shakespeare. I suspect that Edmund Ironside may be identifiable
with the Knewtus [*pace* Greg not the same play as Hardicanute] that
ex-Pembroke's players brought to the Admiral's men in 1597.  And Tom
Nashe wrote for Pembroke's...

By the way, when is Michael Egan's book going to be published in which
he argues that Samuel Rowley's *Thomas of Woodstock, or, First Part of
Richard II* was really written by Shakespeare -- I guess when he was
coming up? I look forward to reading it.

Bill "Seems" Lloyd

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Oct 2004 17:42:31 +0100
Subject: 15.1801 Eric Sams / Edward III
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1801 Eric Sams / Edward III

Dear All,

I love the passion of authorship attributers! This was of course both
Sams' strong and weak point. He became, like Foster (hence the 'arch
reference') very attached to his attributions in a manner which was
hardly scientific and had rather the appearance of subjectivity.

I would point out that my reference to Greene was rather tongue in cheek
('Greene or some such').

What would I find more persuasive evidence on Ed.III?

*An original manuscript perhaps?
*Agreement between statistical accounts of the text's authorship.
*Unbiased editing of the text (unlike Melchiori's for example)
* Comparisons of the text's authorship that do rely upon Gary Taylor's
hypotheses concerning 1HVI (which I have good reason to suppose flawed
at least).
* Stylistic evidence concerning the text's supposed 'Shakespearean'
authorship of Act 2 which takes into account the clearly orally derived
oral formulae - e.g.'Thrice noble' / 'Here comes' / 'See where she
comes' etc.
* Explanation of the wooing scene (which is perhaps derivative of 3HVI)
in terms which do not necessarily presuppose its Shakespearean authorship

Incidentally, in my work on the authorship of 1HVI, I frequently used
evidence accumulated by Sams and his predecessors (i.e. H. C. Hart) but
a lot of his evidence is very difficult to use in a systematic
scientific manner since many of his conclusions are presupposed by his
accumulation of evidence.  Again I refer interested by-standers to Sams'
work on Edmond Ironside.

All the best to those in these 'post-foucauldian' days (he ain't dead
he's just asleep) who with me still consider 'the authorship issue' of
some importance.

Marcus The Terrors of the Text Dahl

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Oct 2004 23:59:59 +0100
Subject: 15.1801 Eric Sams / Edward III
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1801 Eric Sams / Edward III

"Martin Steward's arch reference to A Funeral Elegy is a cheap shot."

Ha!

Not half so cheap as the decision to include the thing in the Riverside
in the first place.

Tautology always provides value for money - and I'm not proud.

m

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