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King Henry VIII
William Shakespeare
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King Henry VIII

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  4,245 ratings  ·  129 reviews
With new editors who have incorporated the most up-to-date scholarship, this revised Pelican Shakespeare series will be the premiere choice for students, professors, and general readers well into the twenty-first century.

Each volume features:
Authoritative, reliable texts
High quality introductions and notes
New, more readable trade trim size
An essay on the theatrical w
Published December 12th 1957 by Routledge (first published 1623)
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Bill  Kerwin

There are lots of things about this play that please and impress me, but somehow I don't think it quite works.

The best things about it are two scenes probably by Fletcher: the sympathetic portrait of Katharine of Aragon's self-defense and the dignified soliloquy of the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey after his fall. The next best thing is the artful, ironic context Shakespeare builds around them, first by creating a magnificent description of the wrestling match staged between Henry VIII and Francis
In the school I went, we studied everything related to Spain: Literature, geography, history, etc. I don't live in Spain, nor I am Spanish, but the school has some kind of “pact” (I don't really know how to call it) with Spain, so they teach those things.

Why do I say all this? Because in 2012, I studied the story behind this book... but from Spain's point of view. It was interesting to contrast them. Not that they're any different, but it's not the same to listen to a story told by two people in
Terri Jacobson
This play is Shakespeare's dramatization of parts of the life of King Henry VIII. The drama covers the dissolution of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, Cardinal Wolsey's fall, and the king's marriage to Anne Bullen. I found this work especially fascinating because of the reading I've been doing on this specific historical period. I've recently read The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser, and Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant by Tracy Borman. Shakespear ...more
This late play, apparently co-authored with John Fletcher, was first produced during the reign of James I and is essentially a praise of Elizabeth I and her successor. Throughout the work all is continually pointing to her birth and illustrious future, this subtext being linear and unchanging. Within this, however, is the presence of roiling politics, including the rise and fall of important political personages such as Buckingham, Wolsey, and (almost) Cranmer. Recurrent pageantry is the order o ...more
Make no mistake, Henry VIII is not a "bad" play. It rates 2 stars only because it doesn't hold up against the 3- and 4-star ratings I've given other Shakespeare plays here on my shelves.

The biggest problem Henry VIII has is a lack of focus and/or a central character.

In terms of focus, we go from Katherine's divorce to Wolsey's downfall to Cranmer's rise to Elizabeth's baptism. All in five acts. There's too much here to adequately develop in the scope of a single play; even in the hands of a mast
The Folger Library Edition, as usual, is a fine edition. The play, "Henry VIII", however, is far from one of the most interesting of Shakespeare's plays; it is not terribly intresting, but it IS terribly un-historical. Clearly, it accomplished what it set out to accomplish, which was to curry favor with Queen Elizabeth I, whose birth is described at the end of the play as if it were almost Messianical, and whose father (the title character) is portrayed throughout the play in the kindest light I ...more
Moira Russell
Chewed through this mainly because I badly sprained my ankle and am stuck in bed, and saw the BBC production of it but could barely follow it and felt vaguely guilty, like I'd slighted Will or something. After reading it and viewing it once again and focusing on the long, detailed critical introduction by Jay L. Halio (which was quite good and hardly at all stiff), what strikes me is not how it's about Henry VIII -- because it isn't, really, just as King John isn't really about that king and Hen ...more
Wafaa Khaled
الكِتاب كواقعة تاريخية منقولَة ، و مضغوطة ، بارع ..
لاحظتُ على يدِ الأستاذ محمد عناني أن شكسبير ضغطَ الأحداثَ ببراعة لتسيير روايتها و تحسين إلقائها ،
مع أن التواريخ - الغير مذكورة - مغلوطة ، و مُخلّطة بدهاء

المُقدمة طالت كثيراً فجَعلت هُناكَ فاصلاً ما بينها و بين المسرحيّة من ناحية ، و رابط بينهما من أخرى ، فهي وضّحت الكتاب و رسمت الأحداث و بيّنت الحقائق و الأخطاء ، و لكنها طالت ^^ ..

أما الشخصيّات ، فلا أعلمُ من أصدّق :/ !
الكاردينال وولزي كانَ رديئاً في عينيّ ، و هدايته في النهاية لم تأتي لي برضا
I was initially surprised Shakespeare wrote this play; I would’ve thought this a dangerous subject, especially since it was practically current history, Elizabeth having been dead only about 10 years after it was penned. After reading it, there is definitely a noticeable conservative element to the writing. The main focus on the play is pageantry, leading up to the birth and christening of Elizabeth. Most of the action takes place off stage. Instead, we’re offered a summation of the events by si ...more
Among Shakespeare's histories, this was one of the weakest--which is to say that it was good rather than great. The most compelling characters--Katherine, Wolsey, Buckingham--suffered a fall from grace rather early, leaving the plot somewhat flat towards the end.

I liked how much of the action is seen through the eyes of characters with (relatively) lower social status--nobility, gentry, and commoners--rather than the royals and top clerics who call the shots. Unfortunately, none of the "lower" c
The epitome of what an Arden edition should be. What a shame this came out so early, leaving so much for other editors to live up to!

The dense (200 page) introduction covers everything you expect - production history, composition history, placing the play within a social, cultural, political context, and textual analysis - and includes the expected amount of academic frou-frou (but we forgive those in an Arden, surely). But what really makes it sing is the editor's wonderfully knowing sense of n
We may well wonder how our greatest playwright took one of England’s most colourful monarchs and made one of his most colourless plays. This is not to say that Henry VIII is a bad play. It has many points of interest, and is certainly a vast improvement on the puerile Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s worst play.

However, it is undeniably not a strong Shakespeare play, and perhaps a brief summary of the plot (such as it is) is required before we look at the reasons for the play’s low standing in th
This was a 2.5 star book for me. I found it interesting because that time period interests me. For that same reason I found it annoying because every historical character portrayed was out of character. I understand where Shakespeare was coming from politically and I know he had to do it like this, but still it grated. Somehow he managed to turn an entire generation of conniving, ambitious, and cut-throat people into Mary Sues and Gary Stus. Even the villains were nice about their treachery and ...more
Or 'All Is True'. Which we know it is not. There are the pageantry and pomp and the silly saintliness of all the characters who were (once) regal and royal. There are the villains who lose their lives due to treachery (how often this happens during the reign of Henry 8). Oddly enough most of the 'fun' stuff happens offstage. Such as the coronation of Anne Bullen - amusing rendition of her surname - which we only receive through a gossip's mouth. In short, Hilary Mantel took this material and mad ...more
If you read the Histories straight through in narrative order starting from King John (which is not, by all accounts, the order in which they were written), you read an epic story of the British monarchy from the middle of the 12th century through the middle of the 16th century. It's a gripping story of war and peace, sometimes (but not often) romance, deceit, birth, death, triumph and tragedy. You can clearly trace some George RR Martin source material back to various contests of lines of succe ...more
Actually the version in the Norton Histories The Norton Shakespeare, Based on the Oxford Edition: Histories, not the Arden.

On the surface, All is True is a puff piece written to suck up to King James I. The ending certainly gives that impression, as Elizabeth is christened and the archbishop gives forth a prophecy of her future greatness and that of the male heirs that, childless, she will miraculously produce.

But an early patron, a descendant of Buckingham, walked out at the scene where his anc
This is one of those Shakespeare plays that I thought would never end. It is not without merit, it's just not the best thig he ever wrote. I don't particularly like it very much. It's not for me, but if you LOVE WS, you drag you butt over the ten miles of broken glass that is this play to read it, and probably come to the same conclusion?
جابر طاحون
دي أولي قراءتي لشكسبير _ لسوء الحظ _ أنا مبحبش المسرحيات التاريخية ، لانها بتبقي عبارة عن قصة بكل معاني كلمة قصة ، تم تنسيقها في إطار مسرحي . في اعتقادي المسرح يجب أن يكتب بلغة مسرحية صرفة لا نكتب قصة في إطار مسرحي لأن النص حينها يفتقر إلي بالحياة الدرامية التي تميز المسرح عن باقي ألوان الأدب ، لكن في نهاية الأمر مقدرش أنكر براعة شكسبير في توظبف الأحداث و الشخصيات و خصوصًا شخصية الكاردينال وويلزي و توظيفه شخصية الملك بدون الانسياق لفخ الانطباع الموحد ، واهتمامه بنوحي متعددةو تقديمه بدائل في النظ ...more
Read this as a companion piece after I finished Wolf Hall. I didn't even know he wrote a play about Henry VIII, and now I know why: it pretty much sucks. And a total whitewash, which makes sense in retrospect. Where's the fucking beheadings, Will?
Though technically the last book that Shakespeare wrote (and in reality, he only wrote about half of this one), we read this first so that we could end on The Tempest. The snippet of Henry VIII's life depicted in this book seems like it could have been chosen better, in that it is neither the rise and fall of Cardinal Wolsey or the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn but the second half of his story and the first half of hers. This seems to have been because the book is really a celebration of the birt ...more
A play that's as interesting for what it leaves out as for what it includes. A curious piece, both theatrically and politically. The scenes with Katherine made, on me, the most lasting impression.
Shakespeare's "Henry VIII" is best remembered as the play that was on stage when the Globe Theater burned down. There's a reason that's what it's known for.... the play itself really doesn't hold up well to the bard's more famous works.

Rife with historical inaccuracies, most of the action takes place off stage, so you just hear characters talking about it. (Yeah, I didn't like it when Hilary Mantel did this either.) It was the Elizabethan age, so of course Shakespeare makes the birth of Queen El
Kayla Jane
While not one of Shakespeare's most often produced plays, this is a hidden jewel of production history. One of the few plays Shakespeare collaborated on writing (this was with John Fletcher), Henry VIII may not be famous, but deserves due attention. Those familiar with Shakespeare's other plays will notice the many ways this one differs; while this play feels and has the stagecraft of a non-Shakespearean drama, it has all the markings of a late Shakespeare--prolific enjambment, shared lines ever ...more
Janine Zachariae
Eigentlich möchte ich gar nicht das Stück selbst bewerten. Schließlich ist es Shakespeare und er ist einzigartig, speziell und zählt zu den Größten überhaupt.
Ich möchte stattdessen auf die Übersetzung eingehen. Alles in allem war sie zufriedenstellend. Aber Baudisssin hat Namen übersetzt. So wurde aus Henrys zweiter Frau, Anne Boleyn, eine Anna Bullen. Das geht einfach nicht. Es ist ein historischer Namen und schon allein Bullen zu lesen gab dem oft ernstem Geist des Ganzen einen spöttischen Be
Decent. Not much of a plot, as "what it's about" jumps around from (1) Wolsey's conflict with the nobility, especially Buckingham; to (2) Henry's desire of annulling his marriage to Katherine so that he can marry Anne; to (3) Cranmer's loyalty and Elizabeth's baptism. There's not really one thread that ties it all together; it's kind of like a highlight reel of Henry's life, with much of the sensitive stuff (i.e. Thomas More) left out.

Worse is that most of the juicy stuff doesn't happen onstage
Shakespeare's prologue instantly drew me into the play's fandom. However, I don't think I finished the play as part of that same group.

During the prologue, I imagine Shakespeare defending the purpose of his historical fiction while simultaneously revolutionizing the medium of stage plays.

How soon this mightiness meets misery:
And if you can be merry then I'll say
A man may weep upon his wedding-day.

Patrons of such plays expected humour or tragedy. To impress ones political or historical perspecti
Abigail Hartman
Goodness, but he did use a deal of stage directions in this one! It rather felt like half the play was action rather than dialogue. Serious, episodic, and a little dry, "Henry VIII" did not seem to me to have as much life to it as most of Shakespeare's works. Since it is historical, the plot is somewhat loose and only vaguely centered on the divorce of Katherine of Aragon; it does have an antagonist for the first part in Cardinal Wolsey, but after his downfall the division of characters becomes ...more
This is the final of Shakespeare's Henry plays for me to read, and it feels as tired as any of the multi-sequeled, animated, straight-to-DVD movies that Disney puts out after each successful fairy tale. Just like those, however, there are glimmers of past glory and intrigue that make them at least watchable and at most enjoyable. For Henry VIII, this is the case in the first three acts. After those, however, Shakespeare is irritatingly tied by his modern day overseers. The only conflict in the p ...more
Lise Petrauskas
I chose this as my next Shakespeare play because it is mentioned in Mansfield Park and I hadn't read it yet. I'm finding it a difficult play, with Queen Katherine being the most sympathetic character so far. I like the scene with Anne Bullen and her attendant for its comedy. Shakespeare rightly warns the audience at the beginning that it's not a light-hearted play. I'll probably enjoy it much more on a second and third reading, once I get a feel for what is happening.

Okay, now that I've finishe
Helene Harrison
ISBN? - 9780199537433

Genre? - Literature / History / Tudors

Characters? - Henry VIII / Anne Boleyn / Thomas Wolsey / Thomas Cromwell / Elizabeth I / Katherine of Aragon / Cardinal Campeggio

Setting? - London (England)

Series? - N/A

Title? - A simple straight-to-the-point title.

Character Analysis? - The characters seemed very inaccurate, after my detailed studies of the archival record. Anne seemed not as vibrant or argumentative as the record suggests, and Henry seemed a lot more amenable to persuas
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr ...more
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Romeo and Juliet Hamlet Macbeth A Midsummer Night's Dream Othello

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“We all are men, in our own natures frail, and capable of our flesh; few are angels.” 45 likes
“Nor shall this peace sleep with her; but as when
The bird of wonder dies, the maiden phoenix,
Her ashes new-create another heir
As great in admiration as herself.”
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