Shakespeare's Tudor History: A Study of Henry IV

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"In this study, McAlindon re-reads the two Henry plays - Shakespeare's highest achievment in the historical-political mode - in the light of the political and cultural history of the Tudor period. The book's format and methodology are designed for an overall comprehensiveness of approach appropriate to an essentially historicist study." "Shakespeare's Tudor History begins with an account of the play's critical history from 1700 to the 1980s, asserting the importance of critical commentary before the postmodern criticism that has dominated the last two decades of the twentieth century. Given the close connection of Henry IV with the other histories, this chapter ranges fairly widely, and is to some extent, and of necessity, a critical history of all Shakespeare's English histories." "The study then moves to an account of aspects of Tudor history that the author deems especially relevant to an understanding of Henry IV. Special emphasis is placed on the linked rebellions of 1536, 1547 and 1569, which haunted the government and its propagandists in the unstable last decades of the century when the state was threatened by a Catholic alliance of internal and external forces. Echoes of these rebellions are present in Henry IV, which seems to endorse the prevailing Tudor conception of history as repetitive and cyclical." In the second edition of the book, McAlindon provides close readings of the text, structured individually around what he puts forward as the plays' three dominant concepts: Time, Truth and Grace. Rather than considering each in distinct outline, McAlindon shows the major concepts to overlap; he deals with each in relation to associated concepts of an arguably subordinate order.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780754604686
  • Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 1/1/2002
  • Series: Shakespeare Studies
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii
List of Abbreviations viii
Preface ix
Part I Context
Chapter 1 A Critical History 3
A masterpiece 3
Comic history 4
Structures 5
Nineteenth-century interpretations 8
Twentieth-century interpretations: conservative Shakespeare 13
Twentieth-century interpretations: ambivalent Shakespeare 17
Conclusion 23
Chapter 2 A Tudor History 27
Present and past 27
Rebellion 28
The colours of rebellion and the problem of truth 34
Rumour's tongues 39
'What is a man but his promise' 40
Treachery and distrust 44
Grace and favour 48
Part II Text
Chapter 3 Time 53
Tudor time 53
Henry IV: image and design 63
The King 65
'Esperance ma comforte': the rebels 70
'Continual laughter': Falstaff 75
'Sunlike majesty': the heir apparent 83
'Veritas filia temporis' 89
The presence of the past 90
Chapter 4 Truth 93
Oaths, perjury, language 93
Royal duplicity: Henry and Prince John 96
The rebels: dividing and divided 108
'The word of the noble': Sir John Falstaff (and friends) 116
True prince or princely hypocrite? 121
Chapter 5 Grace 141
Grace and honour 141
'A god on earth': Henry and Prince John 146
The 'king of honour': Sir Harry Percy 157
Sir John: the reforming knight 160
The 'ungracious boy' 169
Pilgrims of grace 176
Appendix Twelfth Night and temperate mirth 177
Notes 179
Bibliography 209
Index 221
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