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Henry VI, Part Two: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 11 Sep 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed. / edition (11 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199537429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199537426
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 1.8 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 484,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire and was baptised on 26 April 1564. Thought to have been educated at the local grammar school, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he went on to have three children, at the age of eighteen, before moving to London to work in the theatre. Two erotic poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published in 1593 and 1594 and records of his plays begin to appear in 1594 for Richard III and the three parts of Henry VI. Shakespeare's tragic period lasted from around 1600 to 1608, during which period he wrote plays including Hamlet and Othello. The first editions of the sonnets were published in 1609 but evidence suggests that Shakespeare had been writing them for years for a private readership.

Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life in Stratford, by now a wealthy man. He died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623.

(The portrait details: The Chandos portrait, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. NPG1, © National Portrait Gallery, London)

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Review

Halio gives a useful historical summary of the split from Rome (Years Work in English Studies)

Textual apparatus is of a high standard . . . the commentary provides succinct notes on chronological and historical detail, pointed reference to sources used and works that supplement the playwrights' sources, and a comprehensive gloss to problematic words and phrases usefully keyed to a separate index. This is an excellent edition for undergraduate study: the introduction works to consolidate previous critical approaches without itself ever offering restrictive pronouncements on how to read the play, while the text and commentary are set out in a clear, uncrowded manner. Attention to the working needs of the student is evident throughout (Matthew Woodcock, University College, Oxford, Sixteenth Century Journal XXXII/1 (2001)) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Michael Taylor is Former Professor of English at the University of New Brunswick. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dan Smith on 27 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was lucky enough to see Michael Boyd's production of Henry VI part one is his epic History Cycle in the Courtyard theatre in 2006. Prompted by that experience I thought I would delve a little deeper into these underperformed plays and what jewels I found.

Michael Taylor's editing of this edition is superb and the layout of the text and notes stunning. The prose and poetry is sublime and deeply moving. The centrepiece for me has to be the relationship between Talbot and his son who are left beached in France by treachery. Deeply moving, Shakespeare chronicles their love as they fight together for King and Country.

Joan of Arc is another highlight of the play and her story and background is fascinating.

This is a must for Shakespeare scholars and any reader of English History.
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By October on 30 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good value, as the book's in excellent condition. Happy also with the despatch and service. Nothing more to add, except thanks.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By F. Jacobsen on 17 May 2011
Format: Paperback
This book arrived promptly and in perfect condition. It was offered at a reduced price and, in addition, there was no charge for the postage making it a very economical purchase.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A good play in an iffy edition 13 Sept. 2009
By Christopher H. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Note that this review is of the Oxford World's Classics edition of Henry VI Part One. Amazon seems to have a hard time sorting out which editions of Shakespeare plays are equivalent to each other, so that this review also is referred to Henry VI Part Two and probably others, to which it does not belong.*

The First Part of Henry VI, while certainly not Shakespeare's masterwork, is still an interesting read both for its place in the earliest period of Shakespeare's development as a dramatist and for its own artistic merits. The play is written entirely in verse and contains many rhyming couplets, a characteristic of Shakespeare's other early work such as The Comedy of Errors; the language of the play is less mature than that of the later plays and the its tone much less subtle, lacking the keen characterization of which Shakespeare was to prove such a master (to read the Henry VI plays and then Hamlet in quick succession, as I did, is quite a jolting transition). Nevertheless, 1 Henry VI is a fun play, its sonorous pentametres rolling merrily from the tongue as the reader is swept from one melodramatic bloodbath to another.

So much for the merits of the play; now for the edition. The Oxford World Classics editions of Shakespeare are usually excellent, but not this one. The editor, Michael Taylor, is a poor writer who stuffs his introduction with meaningless critical jargon (as other editors of the series also do, but in their cases with less verbosity and to good effect). He is unable to maintain a professional tone either in his introduction or his textual notes, both of which are replete with gratuitous contractions and other colloquialisms that are totally out of place in a scholarly work of this nature. His comments on the text cannot always avoid being salient, but he seems to spend much space needlessly defining Elizabethan words or constructions that either he has already treated, or the glossing of which any reader who has spent even a short time with Shakespeare's language cannot but take as an insult to his intelligence. The text is what really matters, of course, and this edition at least has an adequate apparatus; but since, considering the scarcity of the Oxford editions, this is not likely to be the first version of 1 Henry VI that you come across if you are looking for a copy of the play, there is no reason to seek it out.

*This also means that I cannot write a separate review for the Oxford World's Classics edition of Part Two, which is a much better edition than this. Get your act together, Amazon!
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
One of Shakespeare's Most Underrated Plays! 17 July 2006
By King Dimholt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A lot of people knock this play because Shakespeare presents Joan of Arc as a villain. Well, the truth of the matter is that she was in fact burned as a witch. She was to be cannonized and become a saint, BUT NOT UNTIL 1920! (OVER 300 YEARS AFTER WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE DIED!) In a sense, it is flat out laughable to criticize the play based on the fact that a saint is made to be a villain.

Well, to the play itself. King Henry V (who conquered France) lies dead. His son Henry VI is but a child, and for now it is King Henry V's surviving brothers Glouceter and Bedford who are in charge. Joan of Arc comes into play and tells Charles of France that with her help, France can still come out on top. This is followed by the comical dispute between Glouceter and his uncle (who is Bishop of Winchester). Throughout the story, Winchester is somewhat of a comical villain. He does no real damage, and his disputes with the virtuous Glouceter offer some badly needed comical moments.

We then meet the heroic, but just a little too brave Talbot. He is England's champion here, and he finds he can not defeat Joan. Towards the end of Act 2, there is a dramatic and well drawn scene that foreshadows the War of the Roses. We also meet Richard Plantagenet (the eventual Duke of York). Act 2 concludes with him offering what comfort he can to his imprisoned and dying uncle. In Part 2, York will be more of a villain, but in Part 1, he seems to serve the king with loyalty.

In 3.1, we finally meet the young King Henry VI. He makes Richard Duke of York. (Side note. Richard's father was executed for treason against King Henry V.) Soon afterwards, Bedford despite his failing health manages to support the English as they defeat Joan of Arc in one battle. (Very unlike his back stabbing move in "2 Henry IV," he displays courage, honor, and dignity here.) And we are permitted sympathy as he dies with grace and dignity. But Joan of Arc is far from finished. She wins over Burgundy to France's side and makes it clear that the game is not over.

Well, onto Act 4. King Henry VI is crowned. While many people fail to see any strength In King Henry VI, he does show some strong points here. His actions against Fastolf and Burgundy show that he does not tolerate treason or neglect of duty. He is often rebuked for having rivals Somerset and York work together, but more than once, people have launched enemies against a foreign foe. And a reasonable person would have at least considered it. Well, sadly this is one case where it did not work, and civil dissension between York and Somerset turns the tide in France's favor, and even worse causes the death of Talbot and his son. (The death of Talbot and his son is one of Shakespeare's greatest scenes of tragic beauty.)

One more thing I should point out is that, internal complications are one of the best things you can use to prevent a war scenario from becoming trite and boring. Good job Shakespeare! The death of Talbot breaks England's spirit, and peace is contemplated. But there is one more battle to be fought. York is able to do what Talbot could not do. He defeats Joan of Arc and prevents (at least for now) England's total loss. (Perhaps Shakespeare was preparing York to have more power than we might want him to have in Part 2. It's not unheard of. At first, someone displays unusual strength, and we are happy until that strength turns against us.) Despite the heavy losses, England still controls Calais, Normandy, Maine, and some areas around Bordeaux. We also meet Margaret (who will have a major role in "2 Henry VI" and "3 Henry VI.") She will have a smaller, but still significant part in "Richard III."

Well, peace is discussed. But Suffolk hints that there is more to come. He intends to use Margaret to control the king, but that's the next story. This may be one of Shakespeare's earliest plays, but it certainly reflects the greatness that was to come.
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