Edward III, Now With More Shakespeare

[ ADMIN : For some reason I cannot access any of the key articles about this breaking topic, even though it’s all over my newsfeeds.  I’ll try to update this post with pointers when I figure out what the problem is. ] When I go on vacation, I like to seek out used bookstores.  When I find those, I like to seek out Shakespeare books.  I recently found a 100yr old Venus and Adonis that I have to get around to blogging more about. But once I saw Edward III, by William Shakespeare.  “Odd,” I thought, “Shakespeare never wrote an Edward III.” According to today’s news, that’s half right.  A researcher claims, with the help of his computers, that Shakespeare worked with Thomas Kyd to write this play. I want to see the original articles because I want to see how frequently people are saying “did write” and how often they’re saying “may have written.”  Because if it’s the latter, well then, didn’t we already know that?  And haven’t we proven nothing?  May have also implies may not have, after all. But if it’s pitched as conclusive prove, definitely did, then I think that’s just silly.  No amount of textual analysis is going to *prove* anything.  It’s going to raise your confidence higher, perhaps so high as to be indistinguishable from proof, but that still doesn’t make it proof. More info on the story when I get some links to work.

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One thought on “Edward III, Now With More Shakespeare

  1. A good modern edition is edited by Giorgio Melchiori in The New Cambridge Shakespeare (1998). Melchiori concludes that E3 "probably involves Shakespeare at least as a collaborator."

    I'm more agnostic myself. I did have the good luck to see a live production in Washington a couple of years ago, and the play does hang together well and move very nicely. The thematic echoes of King John and Henry V are right there; it has some good scenes and some good lines. If Shakespeare didn't have a hand in it, then it is one of the best non-Shakespearean history plays.

    But there's really nothing in it that leaps out at you like the Hand D scene in Sir Thomas More.

    For many people, the smoking gun in the text is a complete line from one of Shakespeare's Sonnets: "Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds." But I don't think that proves very much either way–Shakespeare could have cribbed the line from the play, or the playwright could have cribbed from the Sonnet, and where else does Shakespeare repeat a whole line from a Sonnet in one of his plays?

    So I'm on the fence–it's entirely plausible that Shakespeare contributed to the play, but I don't know if we'll ever have anything like "proof." It is an interesting read, and you can link it to Marlowe's Edward II and Shakespeare's Richard II to make a dandy Elizabethan super-epic.

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