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Shakespeare’s Prince: The Interpretation of the Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth

By author: Guy Story Brown
Product Code: H868
ISBN: 9780881464337
Product Format: Hardback
Publisher: Mercer University Press
Availability: In stock
Price: $45.00

The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth is Shakespeare’s most thoughtful history play—it was about this play that Schlegel made his famous comment that “Shakespeare was as profound a historian as a poet.” Yet, this last play, Shakespeare’s lone Tudor history, was popular at its first playing and has proven a crowd pleaser whenever it has been performed. Ever seductive in its trappings of power and emphatic pomp and pageantry, it delineates in a political way the characters of England’s most surpassing statesman and her finest queen, as well as of the king thought most infamous of all by celebrated later English writers like Hazlitt and Dickens. The dramatist here takes only the highest view of all these personages and presents each of them in such an order that they may be seen by all for who and what they truly are. The study proceeds as an interpretive commentary, act-by-act and scene-by-scene, and should be considered with the text of the play at one’s elbow. It aims at a comprehensive interpretation of the play itself from the beginning as Shakespeare’s last dramatic testament, considering particularly its relation to Machiavelli’s Prince and other important contemporary works and events, the Christian schism in England, in particular, and to the rule of the Tudors. The cumulative result is an altogether new understanding of The Famous History of the Life of Henry the Eighth as well as a new introduction, from the point of view afforded by their conclusion, to the question of the purport of the “Shakespearean histories” as such, opened in The First Part of King Henry the Sixth —indeed, of the Shakespearean stage as such—that is grounded thoroughly in the Folio text of Henry VIII itself.
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