Methods and Practice of Elizabethan Swordplay

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Overview

Featuring period drawings and prints of swordplay, this book examines and compares the only three existing Elizabethan fencing manuals written in English before 1600: Giacomo Di Grassi’s His True Arte of Defense (1594), Vincentio Saviolo’s His Practice in Two Bookes (1595), and George Silver’s Paradoxes of Defence and Bref Instructions Upon my Paradoxes of Defence (1599).

More than a technical manual on swordplay, this book explores the influence of a new form of violence introduced into Elizabethan culture by the invention of the rapier. The authors examine the rapier’s influence on the various social classes, the clash between the traditional English fencing masters and those embracing the new style, the growing concern with unregulated dueling, and the frequent references to rapier play in the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

As producer Joseph Papp notes in his Foreword, this is a book that "makes a difference in performance."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"I feel honored to be asked to comment on this splendid and absorbing book. [It] is an invaluable reference book for fight directors and all those involved in staging exhibitions of historical swordplay. I recommend it wholeheartedly."        —Patrick Crean, Fight Master of the Stratford, Ontario, Shakespeare Festival

Booknews
Examines the only three existing Elizabethan fencing manuals, drawing a picture of personal combat in England before 1600. The authors explore the cultural impact of the rapier, reconstruct typical Elizabethan swordplay, and offer suggestions to modern directors for achieving authenticity in staged swordplay. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809315628
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1990
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 139
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Craig Turner is Associate Professor of Theater at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Tony Soper is an actor and fight director who has handled fight roles ranging from Shakespeare to samurai.

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