The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0373 Sunday, 29 June 2008
Date: Friday, 27 Jun 2008 19:42:29 +0200
Subject: The Real Shakespeare
I'm sorry no one is responding to this site about Eric Sams's _The Real
Shakespeare_, which I'm finding fascinating. I recommend it not only for study
but also for pleasure. Sams is so full of verve and passion. I think one has to
read it a bit at a time.
I recommend especially the chapter on The Personal Shakespeare, which is a real
tour de force. He finds a lot of references to Stratford and Warwickshire, which
should please Stratfordians. Indeed, in one of the several chapters on Richard
III he is able to establish that Shakespeare spoke with a Warwickshire accent.
The Personal chapter is so jam-packed with information, ideas, citations from
line to line, that one may need a few sips of brandy to get to the end, but it's
I was disconcerted to find out from Sams that my edition of Richard III is waste
paper. He insists that Q1 is an entirely different play from the superior Folio
1623, and that publishers have continued to produce patched up versions which
falsify the play. Maybe a more expert SHAKSPERians can tell me if there are new
editions in which this heinous error has been corrected? I have found Q1 and F1
on the Shakespeare Authorship site, but I prefer to have a book in my hands. My
wastepaper information comes from the Appendix 4.4, just below the contents
list. Sams was not able to finish his last version.
Sams doesn't believe in collaborations, for example in Henry VI. But here I
disagree. Sams writes, why shouldn't the bard change his style? When I first
heard Coleridge's famous remark that anyone who thinks Sh. wrote the first part
of Henry V1 has no ear, I felt I was unable to judge. But I have made some
progress since then and am entirely convinced that Coleridge was right. I set
myself the task of reading the first act of Henry VI over and over again. Much
of the verse is turgid and Joan la Puce is not memorable as Shakespeare's women
usually are. When I went back to other early plays, this was a revelation: every
word fell as if by magic into the right place.
I was also amazed to find out, that, according to Sams, Shakespeare was relieved
when Queen Elizabeth died and wrote Sonnet 107 to celebrate the occasion. His
closest friends were now safe from persecution. Sams also makes a convincing
case for Barnaby Barnes as the rival poet. He was indeed seeking favours from
Southampton and his magical and spiritualist practices are clearly referred to
in Sonnet 86.
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