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A Man for All Seasons: A Play in Two Acts Paperback – April 14, 1990

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Editorial Reviews


"A Man for All Seasons is a stark play, sparse in its narrative, sinewy in its writing, which confirms Mr Bolt as a genuine and solid playwright, a force in our awakening theatre."—"Daily Mail" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The classic play about Sir Thomas More, the Lord chancellor who refused to compromise and was executed by Henry VIII.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 163 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (April 14, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679728228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679728221
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
A Man for All Seasons has long been my favorite, whether in written form, stage play, or motion picture. The story is fairly simple, another angle on the drama of Henry VIII. Sir Thomas More is a deeply religious man, much troubled by the king's break with Rome and the establishment of the Church of England, naming the king as head of the church (directly contravening the idea that Christ is ultimately head of the church, indeed, Catholics believe the church to espoused to Christ). In an attempt to keep the peace, and his neck, More resigns his office and refuses to make any statement about the issue of the break with Rome or the king's divorce what-so-ever, even to his own wife.

Unfortunately, it would appear that while the king doesn't want to follow the rules, he also doesn't want a bad conscience. This requires him to get the 'blessing' of someone known to be reputable on the subject, so that his conscience may rest at ease. By circumstance of who he is, More is chosen. A document is drawn up in the Parliament, rather craftily, to which subjects of the king are required to swear.
Upon refusing to swear to this document More is thrown into jail. He will neither make a statement about his thoughts on the document, nor make explanation for refusing to swear. In More's thinking, he has been forced to choose between his bodily life and his immortal soul. Eventually More is tried and convicted of High Treason, carrying the sentence of death.
The play is wonderfully crafted and does an excellent job of being subtle and emotional at the same time. It is the essence of a morality play. When push comes to shove, and egos, life, inheritances are on the line, where will you fall?
Some criticize this play for not being historically accurate in some matters.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kendal B. Hunter on April 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is the essential companion to the movie. Or do I have it backwards?
So, to what lengths will a man go to keep his honor? Is everything for sale? This is the story of conscience over expediency, which is a message we need right here, right now, especially in DC. The problem with politics and principles is perennial, but it has become a bit more exacerbated with the war on terrorism.
We rally behind More since he stands up for conscious. It is an interesting dilemma, since we might criticize him for not being more vocal or proactive in his stand against the king, but More does say that God made "man to serve him wittingly, in the tangle of his mind! If he suffers us to fall to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand our tackle as best we can. . . But it's God's part, not our own, to bring ourselves to that extremity! Our natural business lies in escaping!" (p. 126)
The best plays are the ones that make you think yeas after you experience them. This is Bolt's spell, and we can never escape.
This is almost a perfect play. The only flaw is that More ends up with the best one liners, while the antagonists Henry VIII and Cromwell have lifeless lines without the wit and sparkle speeches that Bolt have given to More.
One of the intriguing aspects of this play is all the subplots, or rather, ripples across the ocean of events. These sub-plays augment an already powerful story, and help bring more light and detail to the story.
One ripple is Richard Rich. He is a young man with burning ambition. More wisely counsels him to become a teacher, instead of involving himself in affairs of court. Rich ignores the counsel, gets caught up in the sausage-machine of state, and eventually perjures himself in More's trial.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Taylor on February 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am currently reading A Man For All Seasons as a school project, and I am enjoying it more than any other book that I have read in school. This play is an incredible work of art that thoroughly and accurately depicts the personality and moral values of Saint Thomas More, the man who was "the King's good servant, but God's first". Sir Thomas More became King Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor under one condition: that he be left out of "The King's Great Matter", which, if you didn't know, was the King's conflict with the Pope over his desired anullment from Catherine of Aragon. However, Henry is not satisfied with this, and he is determined to have a blessing of his marriage to Anne Boleyn from Sir Thomas. More, however, is a devout Catholic, and he believes that Henry's anullment from Catherine was not valid, and his morals will not allow him to bless the King's marriage. In hopes of forcing More to agree with him, the King administers an Oath claiming that he is the supreme head of the Church in England, and that Anne Boleyn's children would be the heirs to the throne. Sir Thomas refuses to sign the Oath, and, after spending almost 2 years in the Tower of London, is beheaded. A Man For All Seasons is a great play, for it really shows the reader the kind of man that Sir Thomas was. The other characters are also well written (particularly Sir Thomas's daughter, Margaret). If you are a drama fan, history buff, or someone who likes to read books with great moral substance, A Man For All Seasons is the book for you.
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