75. 25 October 1995 [ES] (Brahms; Sonnets; Henry VIII/Essex parallels)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs. Mathew’s letters)

Dear Hayat,

Many thanks for yours of 15 October. Edward III is due out in time for next year's quatercentenary, but it's all gone very quiet since the text was handed in. I expect that every time Candida looks it at she feels the need of a long holiday. The Real S. part II is also languishing since I drew on it for that Swan theatre piece and a few other items included in my London University seminar earlier this month, which went quite well. Instead, I've gone back to my Brahms song book, which I'll try to off-load on to Faber. He's a neglected master, I think; but I can't deny that he sounds much more old-fashioned than Shakespeare. I reckon they both suffer (like great artists generally) from the current theory that life and works should be kept in separate compartments, and that meanings are independent of authors (and hence known only to critics, on whom total supremacy is thus conferred). I fear that Kerrigan belongs to this camp (in every sense); but his edition of the sonnets nevertheless seems to me the best available, so I'm venturing to enclose a copy in the hope that it will appeal to you. At least it sees that Southampton* must be the young lord (though its interest rather ceases at that point) and also thatEdward III is Shakespearean. I note that the nice Katherine Duncan-Jones is to edit the Sonnets for the Arden (now Routledge) third series, but I doubt whether that will be ready for ages yet. I'm trying to sabotage the series, or at least throw a spanner in the Works, by complaining to Janice Price (the Routledge chief executive, well known to me from her and my Methuen days) that all her Shakespeare editors seem to have memorial reconstruction on the brain, if that's the right word. At least they're going to replace the Jenkins Hamlet, but the new editor is the supine Ann Thompson. King Stork and Queen Log.

   I'll remember to elaborate the H8/ Essex parallels (grist to my mill – perhaps Sh. wrote that speech for him?) in due course; probably 1997, if I survive. Meanwhile I'm grateful for the Massey reference, which I hadn't seen.          

   How do you like the death-mask item also enclosed? One of the cuttings was sent to me by a pen-friend, John Jones, who wrote about The Real S. for the New Welsh Review. He gives me quite good marks apart from my unfortunate failure to mention certain items of special Welsh interest.

   Best, as ever,

   Yours Eric


* I seem to recall some useful observations by Wait in his Sonnet book about later Shakespeare-Southampton links after 1601 (not only the 'mortal moon' sonnet of 1603); but all my study shelves have been de-Shakespeared into store to make room for the Brahms elbow-books, which are quite extensive.


P.S. Thanks for the Yale letter. How about FB: A Vindication?