King Henry IV, Part 1

Overview

"Kastan lucidly explores the remarkable richness and the ambitious design of King Henry IV Part 1 and shows how these complicate any easy sense of what kind of play it is. Conventionally regarded as a history play, much of it is in fact conspicuously invented fiction, and Kastan argues that the non-historical, comic plot does not simply parody the historical action but by its existence raises questions about the very nature of history. He discusses the politics of the play in terms of the vital political concerns of Shakespeare's England but ...
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King Henry IV, Part 1

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Overview

"Kastan lucidly explores the remarkable richness and the ambitious design of King Henry IV Part 1 and shows how these complicate any easy sense of what kind of play it is. Conventionally regarded as a history play, much of it is in fact conspicuously invented fiction, and Kastan argues that the non-historical, comic plot does not simply parody the historical action but by its existence raises questions about the very nature of history. He discusses the politics of the play in terms of the vital political concerns of Shakespeare's England but shows how the drama speaks equally clearly to our own world's troubled efforts to reconcile political stability and social diversity. Inevitably, how we view the play's politics depends on how much we allow Falstaff, an anarchic comic presence in a focused political world, to undermine the historical drive to unity and order. Kastan argues persuasively that the play addresses family relations as well as political alliances, fathers and sons as well as kingship and rebellion." "The introduction devotes extensive discussion to the play's language, indicating how its insistent economic vocabulary provides texture for the social concerns of the play and focuses attention on the central relationship between value and political authority. Kastan demonstrates that, just as Hal uses the idiom of the balance sheet to express his political intelligence, so the commercialization of heroic action by the language of the play contributes to its demystification of politics. Similarly, the evidence that Falstaff was originally given the name of the proto-Protestant martyr Oldcastle is linked both with the character's extensive use of biblical rhetoric and with late sixteenth-century religious practice, serving both to enrich and to complicate our understanding of his disruptive role in the play." In line with standard Arden practice, the introduction offers a full discussion of the play's critical reception and performance history, reveali
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The three individual plays launch the third edition of the venerable "Arden Shakespeare" series, which will see the entire canon reproduced in superior scholarly editions by the year 2000. The First Folio is a facsimile edition of the original 1623 publication of the bard's works.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9783849169596
  • Publisher: TREDITION CLASSICS
  • Publication date: 12/3/2012
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

David Scott Kastan is a professor of English at Yale Unveristy and one of the General Editors of the Arden Shakespeare Third Series.

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Table of Contents

About the Series
About This Volume
List of Illustrations
Introduction 1
Pt. 1 William Shakespeare, The First Part of King Henry the Fourth 17
Pt. 2 Early Modern Documents and Controversies 119
1 Historiography and the Uses of History 121
2 Civil Order and Rebellion 169
3 Cultural Territories 195
Mapping the Land and Its People 196
London 200
Theatre in London: Sites and Controversies 208
Alehouse and Tavern 211
Women in Henry IV, Part I: Wives, Rebels, and Others 216
Wales 218
4 The "Education" of a Prince 275
5 Honor and Arms: Elizabethan Neochivalric Culture and the Military Trades 318
The Chivalric Heritage 319
Elizabethan Rites and Chivalric Rights 321
War 326
Manuals of Honor: The Ideal and the Practice 334
6 The Oldcastle Controversy: "What's in a Name?" 349
Bibliography 392
Index 405
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First Chapter

(INDUCTION)

Enter Rumor, painted full of tongues.

[RUMOR]

Open your ears, for which of you will stop
The vent of hearing when loud Rumor speaks?
I, from the orient to the drooping west,
Making the wind my post-horse, still unfold
The acts commenced on this ball of earth.
Upon my tongues continual slanders ride,
The which in every language I pronounce,
Stuffing the ears of men with false reports.
I speak of peace while covert enmity Under the smile of safety wounds the world.
And who but Rumor, who but only I,
Make fearful musters and prepared defense
Whiles the big year, swoll'n with some other grief,
Is thought with child by the stern tyrant war,
And no such matter? Rumor is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures,
And of so easy and so plain a stop
That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still-discordant wav'ring multitude,
Can play upon it. But what need I thus
My well-known body to anatomize
Among my household? Why is Rumor here?
I run before King Harry's victory,
Who in a bloody field by Shrewsbury
Hath beaten down young Hotspur and his troops,
Quenching the flame of bold rebellion
Even with the rebels' blood. But what mean I
To speak so true at first? My office is
To noise abroad that Harry Monmouth fell
Under the wrath of noble Hotspur's sword,
And that the King before the Douglas' rage
Stooped his anointed head as low as death.
This have I rumored through the peasant towns
Between that royal field of Shrewsbury
And this worm-eaten [hold] of ragged stone,
(Where) Hotspur's father, old Northumberland,
lies crafty-sick. The posts come tiring on,
And not a man of them brings other news
Than they have learnt of me. From Rumor's tongues
They bring smooth comforts false, worse than
true wrongs

[Rumor] exits.

Copyright © 1999 by The Folger Shakespeare Library

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2003

    One of The Most Underrated Shakespeare Plays

    This play is one of Shakespeare's Histories, but don't let that frighten you! It is full of humor, love, and betrayal. I was assigned to read it for a class and if I hadn't been I probably would have been too intimadated to read it. Don't judge the play by it's title!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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