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Massinger As a possible explanation of the peculiarities of the play and its passing under Shakespeare's name, Mr. Leicester Bradner suggests that Shakespeare's company suddenly required a play on the general subject of Henry VIII to balance the successful performance of Rowley's When You See Me, You Know Me at a rival theatre. This is, of course, only guesswork.
In conclusion: The play was hastily thrown together. It shows no one creative mind.
It is a series of scenes, taken from well-known books, scenes which have little relation, even chronological, between them. It has no development of character. And its versification is, in the main, non-Shakespearean. Therefore the conclusion seems inevitable that whatever Shakespeare's share may have been in its composition, it was the minimum amount necessary to have it included by his first editors among his works.
THE TEXT OF THE PRESENT EDITION
The text of the present volume is based, by permission of the Oxford University Press, upon that of the Oxford Shakespeare, edited by the late W. J. Craig. Craig's text has been carefully collated with the Shakespeare Folio of 1623, and the following deviations have been introduced:
1. The stage directions of the Folio have been restored. Necessary words and directions, omitted by the Folio, are added within square brackets.
2. Spelling has been normalized to accord with modern English practice; e.g., Blackfriars, Sandys, everywhere, warlike, vainglory, reverend, sovereign (instead of Black-Friars, Sands, every where, warlike, vain-glory, rev'rend, sov'reign). The punctuation has been largely revised, and a number of oldfashioned Folio forms restored; e.g., th' effects, t'aspire, y' are (you're), burthen (burden).
3. The following changes of text have been introduced, usually in accordance with Folio authority. The readings of the present edition precede the colon, while Craig's readings follow it.
I. i. 42-45 All was royal his full function (as
signed to Buckingham F): (assigned to
Norfolk) 47 As you guess (assigned to Norfolk F):
(assigned to Buck.) 63 a' (OF): he 78 upon,--: upon; 80 in,-: in 120 venom'd-mouth'd F: venom-mouth'd 144 till 't F: till it ii. 32 longing F: ’longing
57 compels F: compel 147, 148 Henton F: Hopkins
190 Bulmer: Blumer F iii. 59 h’as (Ha's F): he has iv. 77 'em F: them
86 Ye F: You
106 'em F: them
mine F: my
183 many-maz’d: many maz'd F
drives F: drive
you F: ye
32 How that F: That
443 by it F: by 't
50 honour. From F: honour from
107 Chan.: Cham. F
H'as (’Has F): He has
SUGGESTIONS FOR COLLATERAL READING
W. G. Boswell-Stone: Shakespere's Holinshed. London, 1896. Here the passages of the play are compared with those from the Chronicle.
George Cavendish: The Life of Cardinal Wolsey. The New Universal Library, with an introduction by Henry Morley. This account of Wolsey by one who knew him well is accessible in a number of editions.
J. S. Brewer: The Reign of Henry VIII, from his Accession to the Death of Wolsey. London, 1884. This is the most detailed history of the period. Brewer's admiration for Wolsey's statesmanship blinds him to faults in his character.
J. A. Froude: The Reign of Henry VIII. Everyman's Library. Froude's bias against Wolsey will correct Brewer's bias for him.
Martin Hume: The Wives of Henry VIII. London, 1905. Katharine's character and her place in history.
James Spedding: Who Wrote Shakespeare's Henry VIII? Gentleman's Magazine, August, 1850. The famous discussion of the appearance of Fletcher's style in the play.
Robert Boyle: Henry VIII. New Shakespeare Society, 1880, 1886. Massinger's authorship is here upheld.
H. Dugdale Sykes: Sidelights on Shakespeare, Stratford-on-Avon, 1919. Massinger's authorship argued on the ground of analogous phrasing between his known plays and Henry VIII.
Baldwin Maxwell: Fletcher and Henry the Eighth. Manly Memorial Vol., 1923, pp. 104-112. Some doubts concerning Fletcher's alleged part in the play.