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The Life and Death of King John

by William Shakespeare

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From AudioFile
The Arkangel Shakespeare is a project that intends to record, uncut, all of Shakespeare's plays. Their strategy seems to be to adopt straightforward, noncontroversial interpretations. If this approach risks seeming a bit matter of fact with the better-known plays, it pays off richly with less familiar works like King John, an early history that dramatizes the indecisive king's attempt to settle an alliance with France. The chief merits of this production are Michael Maloney's performance as the scheming bastard son of Richard I and the intrigues surrounding the death of young Arthur, claimant to the throne. One drawback is the production's overuse of birdsong as a background sound effect for outdoor scenes, a distraction that also turns up in Twelfth Night. The continual twitter eventually competes with the poetry for the listener's attention. G.H. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine

Book Description

Completely re-edited, the New Folger Library editions of Shakespeare's plays put readers in touch with current ways of thinking about Shakespeare. Each freshly edited text is based directly on what the editors consider the best early printed version of the play. Each volume contains full explanatory notes on pages facing the text of the play, as well as a helpful introduction to Shakespeare's language. The accounts of William Shakespeare's life, his theater, and the publication of his plays present the latest scholarship, and the annotated reading lists suggest sources of further information. The illustrations of objects, clothing, and mythological figures mentioned in the plays are drawn from the Library's vast holdings of rare books. At the conclusion of each play there is a full essay by an outstanding scholar who assesses the play in light of today's interests and concerns.

The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
History play in five acts by William Shakespeare, produced in 1596-97 and published in the First Folio of 1623 from an authorial fair copy. The title character provides the central focus of the play, which ends with his death. The playwright surrounds him with such characters as the son of Sir Robert Faulconbridge, known as the Bastard, who supports the king and yet mocks all political and moral pretensions. Shakespeare depicts King John on a rapidly changing course, surrounded by many contrasting characters, so that the king's unsteady mind seems no more than one small element in an almost comic jumble of events.



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