The Tenth Book I've Read in 2020.

Books   Sometimes the editors in these Arden Shakespeare either rebel against the typical format or at least offer an alternative to orthodoxy.  In the appendix bout sources, David Scott Kastan notices "many serious editions of Shakespeare, like the Arden series, have lengthy discussions devoted to the sources of the plays, and often reprint substantial sections of Plutarch or Holinshed or other texts that Shakespeare clearly read and transformed into drama" before heading off into a few pages of essentially saying there's actually little point because no one can be really sure beyond the obvious examples.

The editor could as well be commenting on this volume's narrative predecessor Richard II which does all those things.  Kastan on the other hand, assumes that we know these other books exist and will probably already have access if we're studying the play.  So rather than simply regurgitating their arguments at length instead investigates the topics he's most interested in.  That makes this one of the more readable Ardens as it keeps the purer lit-crit to a minimum and instead delves into the history of the play and how it fits within the context of theatrical and literary history.

He notes, for example, how the focus of the play has developed over time, from Henry Percy as the heroic figure, to Falstaff as the comedic headliner to the present moment when, thanks to the play usually being presented with the various other sections of this Henriad it's about the tortured relationship between father and son and the fight for legitimacy of both Henrys after the deposition of Richard.  Which is one of the things I love about Shakespeare.  Historically, for the most part, the texts haven't changed and yet they have the capacity to fuel our current interest in having drama with an emotional and intellectual depth.

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