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Henry IV, Part I Mass Market Paperback – Aug 17 1998


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics; 2nd Revised edition edition (Aug. 17 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451527119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451527110
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.7 x 1.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #309,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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King. So shaken as we are, so wan with care, Find we a time for frighted peace to pant And breathe short-winded accents of new broils To be commenced in stronds afar remote. Read the first page
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I, like everybody else trying to sell this book at Amazon, read this because it was required for an English class at university. I'm better for having read it. But let's face it, Shakespeare's stories were meant to be experienced in a theatre. If you want to know Shakespeare's story about Henry 4th, find a local theatre company and request it.
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By A Customer on May 21 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
henry iv is misnamed since the play isn't really about king henry but about his son, prince hal, and his enemies, especially henry percy (aka 'hotspur') who is a rival to hal. hotspur is one of the leaders of the rebellion against the king and, at a tender age, is already an accomplished soldier. his story provides the drama of the play. hal, on the other hand, has fallen out of favor with the king, and is whiling away his days in the company of dissolute company, led by sir john falstaff, one of shakespeare's great characters. his adventures with sir john provide the comic relief. fortunately for the king, hal sheds his prodigal ways in time to save his father and his crown in the battle at shrewsbury, where, coincidentally, hal meets and slays his rival, hotspur.
this is one of shakespeare's best plays. the story of the rebellion is intriguing, and the adventures of hal and falstaff are laugh-out-loud hilarious. the culmination of the two stories in the final battle scene is wonderful. this is a fitting sequel to richard ii.
note that there are some historical inaccuracies and even outright inventions in this play. foremost is the character of falstaff who is pure invention (and genius). the story of hal's adventures stems from his reputation, enhanced by legend, as a playboy. falstaff was the perfect foil for a carousing prince. the biggest inaccuracy is hotspur's age. he was actually of the generation of henry iv, and not as young as he's depicted in the play. shakespeare made him younger to enhance, maybe even create, the rivalry with hal. there are other inaccuracies here, but better for the reader to consult 'shakespeare's kings', an excellent book by saccio that explains the history of the period and the discrepancies in the play.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
When rating Shakespeare, I am comparing it to other Shakespeare. Otherwise, the consistent "5 stars" wouldn't tell you much. So when I rate this book five stars, I'm saying it's one of the best of the best.
As a matter of fact, it isn't unusual for Shakespeare's "histories" to be more interesting to the modern reader than either his comedies or his tragedies; they fit the modern style that doesn't insist that comedies must have everything work out well in the end, or that tragedies must be deadly serious with everyone dying at the end, as was the convention in Shakespeare's time. Thus, this book has a serious plot, real drama, and blood and destruction, yet still has many extremely funny scenes. And as Shakespearean plays go, it's a fairly easy read, although in places the footnotes are still neccessary. The only caveat I will make is that one needs to remember not to consider Shakespeare's histories particularly historical; they have about as much historical accuracy as the Disney version of Pocahontas. Treat them as excellent stories based (very) loosely on history, and you'll do fine.
It's a real shame that the language has changed so much since Shakespeare was writing that his plays are no longer accessable to the masses, because that's who Shakespeare was writing for. Granted, there is enough seriousness to satisfy the intelligensia, but there is generally enough action and bawdy humor to satisfy any connouiseur of modern hit movies, if only they could understand it, and this book is no exception. Unfortunately, once you change the language, it's no longer Shakespeare, until and unless the rewriter can be found who has as much genius for the modern language as Shakespeare had for his own. I don't think I'll hold my breath waiting.
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By Karim Walker on Nov. 21 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Of all Shakespeare's histories, Henry IV, part I is the best. It is the first of three plays that examines the ascension of the great King Henry V. Here, we see a young Prince Hal as a troublemaker and a "royal pain" (pun intended), who hangs out in taverns with drunkards and derelicts. But we also see a young man who realizes his destiny and knows that the time will come when he will have to be a strong king for England's sake. The play is more than just one person's rise. It examines English society in atime of great instability and civil strife. It examines the role of family (fathers and sons, brothers, and uncles and nephews). This play is a reflection of Shakespeare at his finest and everyone should read at least this play, whether or not they love Shakespeare or not. It is worth the read. (and it is a rather simple read, too.)
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The lengthy title for the 1598 printing was "The History of Henrie the Fourth, With the Battell at Shrewsburie, between the King and Lord Henry Percy, surnamed Henrie Hotspur of the North, with the humorous conceits of Sir John Falstaffe".
Surprisingly, Hal, Prince of Wales, (later Henry V) was not even mentioned in this verbose title although many would consider him to be the central character. This play is clearly the dramatization of a struggle for a kingdom, but it is equally the story of Hal's wild and reckless youthful adventures with Falstaff and other disreputable companions.
Shakespeare did not write his plays about English kings in chronological order, but these plays do have a historical unity. It is helpful (but not essential) to read the tetralogy Richard II, Henry IV Part 1 and 2, and Henry V in chronological order. Whatever route you take, I highly recommend buying a companion copy of Peter Saccio's "Shakespeare's English Kings", an engaging look at how Shakespeare revised history to achieve dramatic effect.
A wide selection of Henry IV editions are available, including older editions in used bookstores. I am familiar with a few and have personal favorites:
The New Folger Library Shakespeare is my first choice among the inexpensive editions of Henry IV. "New" replaces the prior version in use for 35 years. It uses "facing page" format with scene summaries, explanations for rare and archaic words and expressions, and Elizabethan drawings located on the left page; the Henry IV text is on the right. I particularly liked the section on "Reading Shakespeare's Language in Henry IV" and Alexander Legget's literary analysis (save this until you have read the play).
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