Cet ouvrage offre un grand plaisir de lecture : de par l'histoire racontée, déjà, puis de par l'appareil critique qui est excellemment réalisé, par un des meilleurs spécialistes du Barde et permet de bien comprendre non seulement le texte mais également les enjeux de la pièce. L'exégète précise ce qui a - selon toute probabilité - été écrit par Shakespeare et par Fletcher. cette lecture rappellera aussi des souvenirs à ceux qui ont une bonne connaissance de l'Antigone de Sophocle. Enfin, pourquoi se priver de lire ce qui est - si l'on en croit ses biographes - la dernière pièce (écrite en collaboration, comme à ses débuts) du grand Shakespeare ?
Note that this review is of the Oxford World's Classics edition of Henry VI Part One. Amazon seems to have a hard time sorting out which editions of Shakespeare plays are equivalent to each other, so that this review also is referred to Henry VI Part Two and probably others, to which it does not belong.*
The First Part of Henry VI, while certainly not Shakespeare's masterwork, is still an interesting read both for its place in the earliest period of Shakespeare's development as a dramatist and for its own artistic merits. The play is written entirely in verse and contains many rhyming couplets, a characteristic of Shakespeare's other early work such as The Comedy of Errors; the language of the play is less mature than that of the later plays and the its tone much less subtle, lacking the keen characterization of which Shakespeare was to prove such a master (to read the Henry VI plays and then Hamlet in quick succession, as I did, is quite a jolting transition). Nevertheless, 1 Henry VI is a fun play, its sonorous pentametres rolling merrily from the tongue as the reader is swept from one melodramatic bloodbath to another.
So much for the merits of the play; now for the edition. The Oxford World Classics editions of Shakespeare are usually excellent, but not this one. The editor, Michael Taylor, is a poor writer who stuffs his introduction with meaningless critical jargon (as other editors of the series also do, but in their cases with less verbosity and to good effect). He is unable to maintain a professional tone either in his introduction or his textual notes, both of which are replete with gratuitous contractions and other colloquialisms that are totally out of place in a scholarly work of this nature. His comments on the text cannot always avoid being salient, but he seems to spend much space needlessly defining Elizabethan words or constructions that either he has already treated, or the glossing of which any reader who has spent even a short time with Shakespeare's language cannot but take as an insult to his intelligence. The text is what really matters, of course, and this edition at least has an adequate apparatus; but since, considering the scarcity of the Oxford editions, this is not likely to be the first version of 1 Henry VI that you come across if you are looking for a copy of the play, there is no reason to seek it out.
*This also means that I cannot write a separate review for the Oxford World's Classics edition of Part Two, which is a much better edition than this. Get your act together, Amazon!