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Richard II (Folger Shakespeare Library) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0743484916 ISBN-10: 0743484916 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743484916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743484916
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, on England’s Avon River. When he was eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. The couple had three children—their older daughter Susanna and the twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, died in childhood. The bulk of Shakespeare’s working life was spent, not in Stratford, but in the theater world of London, where he established himself professionally by the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a playwright, but as an actor and shareholder in an acting company. Sometime between 1610 and 1613, Shakespeare is thought to have retired from the stage and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616.

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King's New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later under James I, called the King's Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare's plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lancelot R. Fletcher on August 10, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered a number of copies of this book -- the New Folger Library edition of Richard II -- for use by members of a Shakespeare reaeding group in Tbilisi, Georgia (that's the country, not the state), most of whose members are not native speakers of English. For this purpose the Foger edition, with notes on the page facing each page of text, was very useful -- more useful, I think, than the Arden edition, whose critical apparatus is very copious but often gets in the way. And in a few cases I found the Folger's notes more accurate and informative. Harry Berger's concluding essay, however, is not so good. It argues a thesis that I find somewhat implausible and one-sided in its reading of the play, so especially for the new student it is not very useful. But coming at the end of the text it is easy to ignore.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Big D VINE VOICE on February 15, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Shakespeare can be tough--tough, but well worthwhile---and this book does a good job of presenting Shakespeare in a manner and form that is not overpowering to the reader....

Provides just enough insight and history to aid the reader in understanding, but doesn't overpower the reader with unnecessary "book learning." The real impact of Shakespeare, however, is in the play itself...this book adds to the play and doesn't detract from it by an overpowering explanation or presentation.

Good effort. Barbara Mowat's work is always good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gene Zafrin on February 4, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Many Shakespearean plays (and this one in particular) are especially engaging since they can be interpreted in various ways.

Taking the events at face value, we could accept Richard's explanation that spilling English blood (even the blood of a thief and a traitor) would be unacceptable and preventing it would justify sending both Bolingbroke and Mowbray (at least one of whom is innocent) into exile; that stealing Bolingbroke's inheritance was to cover the expenses of the Irish wars; that in response to Bolingbroke's demands to return his inheritance, Richard had no alternative but to give away the kingdom, or that Bolingbroke needed to be convinced to accept the crown.

We could also engage the historic context to help elucidate the play. Both Bolingbroke and Mowbray were part of the Lords Appellant, a group which in the past plotted to wrestle power from the king, which would make their banishment a bit more consequential. It would also explain why Richard made the two swear that they would not plot against him while abroad. It would add color to the murder of Gloucester, the leader of the group.

Or we could read the play as largely a game of pretense. Throughout the play, Bolingbroke claims allegiance to the king. But in fact he may have always harbored hopes of taking over the kingdom. His loyalty did not prevent him from speaking with the people of England as if he were the king, or from killing Richard's friends, or from accepting the crown. His royal ambition would give another reason for his banishment and would provide another explanation for Richard's usurping his inheritance.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bill Slocum VINE VOICE on January 3, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is chronologically the first of the four "Henriad" Shakespeare plays, along with "Henry IV Part 1," "Henry IV Part 2," and "Henry V," yet I read it last. Normally, I like to read things in order, but this time I was glad I got to it late. You need to know the backstory, or in this case frontstory, in order to appreciate "Richard II."

Richard is king of England at the dawn of the 15th century, a firm believer in the notion of royalty as manifestation of divine will. He runs his kingdom in an arrogant, high-handed manner, not sweating the anger he provokes. He will always be king, he believes, and doesn't worry about blowback while disinheriting a noble he previously exiled for petty cause: "Not all the water in the rough rude sea/Can wash the balm off from an anointed king."

The play is one of Shakespeare's more political works, contrasting Richard's lazy claim of divine favor with Bolingbroke, later to become Henry IV, a scrapper who works to win over lords and commoners alike. It's a fascinating dual portrait, especially when looking forward to the tough-nosed but stabilizing figure of Henry IV and the inspiring Henry V. You can see Richard II showing us why Great Britain needed the Henrys to come along when they did.

Shakespeare's approach here takes hits from some critics for being too pat and rhymey. Actually, I found his language here to be quite beautiful and engaging, with not just the last few lines of scenes but entire colloquies done in rhyme. Deep ruminations about death and the natural order of things lend ballast to the play; so too do metaphoric observations about gardening and heavenly bodies as they pertain to kingly rule.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
New to the genre the Folger edition is what I needed to get partially up to speed in an area of my classical education that has been long neglected. Others like me should enjoy it as well.
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