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Henry the Fourth

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This updated edition offers a strongly theatrical perspective on the origins of Shakespeare's The First Part of King Henry IV and the history of its interpretation. The introduction clarifies the play's surprising, de-centred dramatic structure, questioning the dominant assumption that the drama focuses on the education of Prince Hal. It calls attention to the effects of civil war upon a broad range of relationships. Falstaff's unpredictable vitality is explored, together with important contemporary values of honour, friendship, festivity and reformation. Extensive lexical glosses of obscure, ambiguous or archaic meanings make the rich wordplay accessible. The notes also provide a thorough commentary on Shakespeare's transformation of his sources (particularly Holinshed's Chronicles) and suggest alternative stagings. This updated edition contains a new introductory section by Katharine A. Craik, which describes recent stage, film and critical interpretations, and an updated reading list.
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