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Edward II Paperback – December 15, 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This is a first-rate edition of an increasingly important play. Mathew Martin's editing of the quarto text of Edward the Second is detailed and thoughtful, with copious, insightful annotations, and his critical introduction lucidly explores the play's theatrical contexts, historiographical concerns, and thematic imperatives. The extensive appendices that conclude the volume are invaluable for understanding the larger historical, political, and sexual contexts of the work. All in all, this is an edition that will greatly benefit both the student reader and the experienced scholar." (Ian Munro )

"Mathew Martin's new edition of Edward the Second will serve well the needs of students. The introduction contains a succinct and helpful summary of the pertinent aspects of Marlowe's life and of the practical concerns of the Elizabethan stage, details the reign of the historical Edward II, and considers early modern and postmodern evaluations of "sodomitical" relationships. Appendices offer important cultural contexts, including passages from Marlowe's historical sources in Holinshed and Stow, Michael Drayton's very different poetic account of Edward's reign, a selection of early modern versions of the tradition of amity (or friendship between men), and Renaissance legal and moral descriptions of sodomy." (Ian McAdam ) --Ian McAdam --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Depicting with shocking openness the sexual and political violence of its central characters’ fates, Edward the Second broke new dramatic ground in English theatre. The play charts the tragic rise and fall of the medieval English monarch Edward the Second, his favourite Piers Gaveston, and their ambitious opponents Queen Isabella and Mortimer Jr., and is an important cultural, as well as dramatic, document of the early modern period.

This modernized and fully annotated Broadview Edition is prefaced by a critical but student-oriented introduction and followed by ample appendix material, including extended selections from Marlowe’s historical sources, texts bearing on the play’s complex sexual and political dynamics, and excerpts from contemporary poet Michael Drayton’s epic rendition of Edward the Second’s reign.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Drama Classics
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Nick Hern Books (December 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854594109
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854594105
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.3 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,043,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Marlowe's final play is also his masterpiece. To be sure, the dramatic events in this play really did happen, but Marlowe shows himself at his best when he paints the picture. At first, Marlowe masterfully allows us to detest Edward for undoing all the fine work of his father Edward Longshanks. We also are able to feel sorry for Mortimer and Isabella. (the eventual villains). Isabella feels neglected and Mortimer can not stand to see the fine work of Edward Longshanks undone. Later, we come to have some respect for Edward II when he shows himself to have some of his father's fine qualities and he crushes the first rebellion against him with courage and intelligence. When the second uprising successful, we no longer are lead into any feelings of admiration for Mortimer and Isabella. Once they have power they are more vile and disgusting than Edward II ever was. By Act 5.1, Marlowe gives Edward II moving soliloquies and does not allow our new won pity to slack for a moment. The final scene of this play when Edward II's 17 year old son Edward III flips the tables, crushes his corrupt mother, has Mortimer put to death, and offers prayers to his murdered father is a scene that is almost unsurpassed in literature. To be sure, this did actually happen, but Marlowe not only tells us what happened, but colors it with his superb mastery of the language.
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Format: Paperback
Edward the second, or to give it its full title, 'The troublesome reign and Lamentable death of Edward, the second king of England, with the tragical fall of proud Mortimer', is famous for being an Elizabethan 'Gay play', but this is only one of the subjects contained within the play. Politics, cruelty and the Feudal System are all important themes in this, one of the great masterstrokes of Elizabethan literature. The play itself is a history play, set in the 14th century featuring Edward and his previously basished lover, Gaveston, who returns after the death of Edward's father. This return enrages the barons, who were sworn to Edward's father that Gaveston would never return. This is the catalyst for a plot that races around like a cheetah on speed, culminating in one of the most excruciating deaths ever portrayed on stage. "Shakespeare? Who? Marlowe was far better!"
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Format: Paperback
This play is Brecht's adaptation of Marlowe's Edward II. I suspect this play will be surprising to most readers of Brecht because it contains considerably less of the overt social satire and commentary associated usually with Brecht. More than anything else, this play is a character of study of Edward's refusal to heed social conventions. This play is surprisingly successful, at least when read. Brecht elevates Edward's wilfullness into a virtue and makes him a surprisingly sympathetic character. The play displays Brecht's wit and stagecraft quite well.
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Format: Paperback
The edition of Edward II I read was the New Mermaid Series one, which had a very good and informative introduction, and has the spelling modernized. The spelling modernization extends to place names as well as general terms. I am not sure how I feel about spelling modernization, as it is nice to see how the work was originally spelled, but it made the work very easy to read. The play itself is amazing, very engaging even though it is a history, and is mostly based on things that actually happened. The language is not as flowery as Shakespeare, but is lovely nonetheless. Some of the characters of the play are very fickle, and seem to suddenly change as you read the text of the play. (Queen Isabella goes from devoted and self-sacrificing wife to cunning adulteress.) It makes more sense on stage, and after seeing this play, it was easier to see how good it is.
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Format: Paperback
This is a bad play with an extremely provocative treatment of a political subject, for sure in Marlowe's time and even today. The king in question is a very strange character. For one he was an authoritarian king who was not able to cope with the Scottish rebellion and Robert the Bruce who defeated him in Bannockburn in 1314. He was confronted to the slow rising of Parliament, which meant the rising of the Commons since the peers, Barons and Church, had already risen in 1215 with the Magna Carta.

He was married to Isabella of France, the sister of the French king, and had four children from her, which should mellow down the gay theme. He was at most bisexual, which was not rare in those days, but he gave too many favors to his favorites, particularly Gaveston and later the Despenser family. This irritated the barons and peers who felt neglected.

This being said we have to keep in mind he reigned from 1307 (he was 21 then) to 1327 when he was forced to abdicate in favor of his son. This was a first since Ethelred in 1013, which was 53 years before Hastings and the Norman invasion. So it was a first for the "Norman" dynasty.

Marlowe warps the picture slightly and packs up nearly twenty years of power into five acts that do not provide the time span behind the various events he deals with. That makes the sexual dimension a lot more pregnant than it should have been. The barons appear as sexual bigots whereas they were first of all concerned with their "sacred power," a power they had gained from John Lackland with the Magna Carta.
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