Book: King John «Conscience Considered Chiefly in Reference to Moral and Religious Obligation»

Conscience Considered Chiefly in Reference to Moral and Religious Obligation

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Издательство: "Книга по Требованию" (2011)

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King John

"The Life and Death of King John", a history play by William Shakespeare, dramatizes the reign of King John of England (ruled 1199–1216), son of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine and father of Henry III of England. It is believed to have been written in the mid-1590s but was not published until it appeared in the First Folio in 1623.


Shakespeare's play has a close relationship to an earlier history play, "The Troublesome Reign of King John" (ca. 1589). The consensus among modern scholars is that the earlier play provided a source and model for Shakespeare. [Hunter, G. K. "English Drama 1586-1642: The Age of Shakespeare" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997): 223.] There is, however, a strong line of oppositional criticism that argues for the priority of Shakespeare's play, beginning with Peter Alexander and continuing with the work of E. A. J. Honigmann. [ King John, ed. Honigmann (London: Methuen and Co., 1981): xi-lix.] Some critics believe that Shakespeare revised the early version of the play in the mid-1590s. It is possible that "The Troublesome Reign" is his play or that it is a "bad quarto" or memorial reconstruction put together by one or more actors in an earlier stage production.

Other probable sources of note include "Holinshed's Chronic," John Foxe's "Acts and Monuments" and Matthew Perry's' "Historia Maior."

Date and text

The play was in existence by 1598, as it is mentioned by Francis Meres in his list of Shakespearean plays published in that year, Palladis Tamia; no early performances, however, are recorded. The earliest known performance took place in 1737, when John Rich staged a production at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. In 1745, the year of the Jacobite rebellion, competing productions were staged by Colley Cibber at Covent Garden and David Garrick at Drury Lane. Charles Kemble's 1823 production made a serious effort at historical accuracy. Since that time, "King John" has been one of Shakespeare's least-performed plays. [F. E. Halliday, "A Shakespeare Companion 1564-1964," Baltimore, Penguin, 1964; pp. 264-65.] It was first published in the First Folio in 1623. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor, editors of the Oxford edition of "The Complete Works," date the play to 1595 or 1596. [Wells and Taylor (1988, 397).]

Performance history

Numerous 17th century references to "King John" testify to the play's popularity, but the first recorded performance did not take place until 1737. David Garrick staged the first successful revival in 1745. Charles Kemble staged a production in 1823, notable for inaugurating the 19th century tradition of striving for historical accuracy in Shakespearean production. Other successful productions of the play were staged by William Charles Macready (1842) and Charles Kean (1846). Twentieth century revivals include Robert B. Mantell's 1915 production (the last production to be staged on Broadway) and Peter Brook's 1945 staging, featuring Paul Scofield as the Bastard.

Herbert Beerbohm Tree made a silent movie version in 1899, which is the earliest surviving film adaptation of a Shakespearean play. "King John" has been made for television twice: in 1951 with Donald Wolfit and in 1984 with Leonard Rossiter. [Charles Boyce, "Shakespeare A to Z", Roundtable Press (1990).]

Dramatis personae

*King John
* Prince Henry, son to the King (the future Henry III)
* Arthur, Duke of Britain, nephew to the King (Arthur I, Duke of Brittany)
* Earl of Pembroke (William Marshal)
* Earl of Essex (Geoffrey Fitz Peter)
* Lord Bigot
* Hubert de Burgh
* Robert Faulconbridge, son of Sir Robert Faulconbridge
* Philip the Bastard, his half-brother (also called Richard)
* James Gurney, servant to Lady Faulconbridge
* Peter of Pomfret, a prophet
* Philip, King of France (Philip II of France)
* Lewis, the Dauphin (future Louis VIII of France)
* Lymoges, Duke of Austria (a composite of: Leopold of Austria, who captured Richard I in his domains; Henry VI of Germany, who exacted a ransom for Richard's return; and Viscount Aimar V of Limoges, whom Richard was besieging when he was killed).
* Cardinal Pandulph (or Pandolph), the legate of Pope Innocent III.
* Melune, a French Lord
* Chatillion, ambassador from France to King John
* Queen Elinor, widow of Henry II, mother to King John (Eleanor of Aquitaine)
* Constance, widow of Geffrey (John's elder brother) and mother to Arthur (Constance, Duchess of Brittany).
* Blanche of Spain, daughter to King of Castile, niece to King John (Blanche of Castile)
* Lady Faulconbridge, widow of Sir Robert Faulconbridge
* Lords, heralds, etc.


The play opens with a plea from the French King Phillip for King John to abdicate in favor of his nephew, Arthur I, Duke of Brittany, son of John's elder brother Geoffrey. The five acts then depict a dizzying change of s, a Papal excommunication and a subsequent reconciliation. The play ends with King John's slow death after apparently having been poisoned by a monk.

Throughout the play, a character known as "The Bastard" delivers a skeptical commentary on nobility, "commodity" (self-interest) and English sovereignty.

It is sometimes considered odd that Magna Carta is never mentioned in the play, since this is for what King John is now best remembered. Magna Carta, however, was considered in Shakespeare's time "not as a triumph for liberty, but rather as a shameful attempt to weaken the central monarchy." [Irving Ribner, "The Complete Pelican Shakespeare" 1981 p. 175.] Also, the focus of the play is on the quarrel over the succession; Magna Carta would not have been relevant to this story. Despite this, it was common for Victorian productions of the play to interpolate a spectacular tableau of the signing of Magna Carta.


In the Victorian era, "King John" was one of Shakespeare's most frequently staged plays, in part because its spectacle and pageantry were congenial to Victorian audiences. "King John," however, has decreased in popularity: it is now one of Shakespeare's least-known plays and stagings of it are very rare.

ee also

* Illegitimacy in fiction


* Wells, Stanley, and Gary Taylor, eds. 1988. "The Complete Works". By William Shakespeare. Compact ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198711905.


External links

* [ Complete Text of King John at MIT]
* [ King John] - plain vanilla text from Project Gutenberg
* [ The life and death of King John] - HTML version of this title.

Источник: King John

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King JohnConscience Considered Chiefly in Reference to Moral and Religious ObligationКнига представляет собой репринтное издание. Несмотря на то, что была проведена серьезная работа по восстановлению первоначального качества издания, на некоторых страницах могут обнаружиться… — Книга по Требованию, - Подробнее...2011
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