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King Henry IV, Part I
by William Shakespeare
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The author offers a new approach to the text of the Second Part of King Henry IV, which he sees as an unplanned sequel to the First Part, itself a remake of an old, non-Shakespearean play. The Second Part deliberately exploits the popular success of Sir John Falstaff, introduced in Part One; the resulting rich humor gives a comic dimension to the play that makes it a unique blend of history, morality play and comedy. Among modern editions of the play this is the one most firmly based on the Quarto. Professor Melchiori presents an eminently actable text, by showing how Shakespeare's own choices are superior for practical purposes to suggested emendations, and by keeping interferences in the original stage directions to a minimum, in order to respect, as Shakespeare did, the players' freedom.
Card catalog description
Includes a brief biography of the author, thematic and structural analysis of the work, critical views, and an index of themes and ideas.
From the Publisher
A play alive with escapades and action, comedy and history, Henry IV, Part One begins the transformation of the madcap Prince Hal into the splendid ruler King Henry. In it a rebellion against King and State is juxtaposed with another rebellion--the riotous misbehavior of Hal and his companions, principally Falstaff. A superbly funny liar, coward, lecher, and cheat, the larger-than-life character Falstaff turns this great historical drama into a masterpiece of counterpoint and design.
From the Inside Flap
The stirring continuation of the themes begun in Henry IV, Part One again pits a rebellion within the State and that master of misrule, Falstaff, against the maturing of Prince Hal. Alternating scenes between bawdy tavern and regal court, between revelry and politics, Shakespeare probes at the sources, uses, and responsibilities of power as an old king dies and a young king must choose between a ruler's solemn duty and a merry but dissipated friend, Falstaff. The play represents Shakespeare at the peak of his maturity in writing historical drama and comedy.
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