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Edward II Paperback – December 15, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 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 the Kindle Edition edition.

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 the Kindle Edition edition.

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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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,288,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Enter QUEEN ISABELLA and the younger MORTIMER.
Y. Mor. Fair Isabel, now have we our desire;
The proud corrupters of the light-brain'd king
Have done their homage to the lofty gallows,
And he himself lies in captivity.
Be rul'd by me, and we will rule the realm:
In any case take heed of childish fear,
For now we hold an old wolf by the ears,
That, if he slip, will seize upon us both,
And gripe the sorer, being grip'd himself.

Christopher Marlowe brought something to the Elizabethan stage which it had lacked: nothing less than genius. First of all, for iambic pentameter so rhythmic and vigorous (Ben Jonson called it "Marlowe's mighty line"), it almost reads itself, which is one reason the occasional formatting slip and lack of notes in this Gutenberg edition are barely noticeable.

Shakespeare took much from Marlowe. From this play, the dramatic compression of historical events. But Shakespeare in his plays at least, never portrayed a man's passionate love for another man as boldly as Marlowe does here:

Enter GAVESTON. K. Edw. My Gaveston! Welcome to Tynmouth! welcome to thy friend!
Thy absence made me droop and pine away;
For, as the lovers of fair Danaë,
When she was lock'd up in a brazen tower,
Desir'd her more, and wax'd outrageous,
So did it fare with me: and now thy sight
Is sweeter far than was thy parting hence
Bitter and irksome to my sobbing heart.

Gav. Sweet lord and king, your speech preventeth mine;
Yet have I words left to express my joy:
The shepherd, nipt with biting winter's rage,
Frolics not more to see the painted spring
Than I do to behold your majesty.
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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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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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