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David Scott Kastan lucidly explores the remarkable richness and the ambitious design of King Henry IV Part 1, and shows how these complicate any easy sense of what kind of play it is. Conventionally regarded as a history play, much of it is in fact conspicuously invented fiction, and Kastan argues that the non-historical, comic plot does not simply parody the historical action but by its existence raises questions about the very nature of history. The full and engaging introduction devotes extensive discussion to the play's language, indicating how its insistent economic vocabulary provides texture for the social concerns of the play and focuses attention on the central relationship between value and political authority.
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