Friday, January 29, 2021

Shakespeare Apocrypha - Edmund Ironside

Today I've read Edmund Ironside, subtitled War Hath Made All Friends. Some critics have suggested that this play is an early Shakespeare work, though all these claims are relatively modern. The play wasn't published and only survives in manuscript. Nor was it attributed to Shakespeare in any way before the modern era. So the links to him are tenuous.

It was a good quick read and I enjoyed it. However, it didn't feel especially Shakespearean. It was a bit blunt and plain speaking. In fact, it was really easy to understand. Often with Shakespeare there are parts that are quite opaque. Either because of the language itself, or because of the lack of context or reference points. This one was very clear though, apart from the odd word.

It felt like it was aimed at the public in general, rather than at an educated audience. Almost being like a morality play, with the duplicitous character Edricus being the hated pantomime villain. Setting out a clear illustration to the audience of how not to behave. It was also very pro-English. So in that regard it does fit neatly with the other history plays.

Again, personally I didn't get the feeling that this was from the same hand. Though I don't have a particularly strong opinion either way. The simple clunky-ness could indeed owe itself to the fact that this was an early work. So I'll leave the jury out.

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