Linda Micheli's annotated bibliography makes it more apparent than ever that Henry VIII evokes violently opposed critical responses. Is it Shakespeare's or isn't it? Is it episodic and disunified, or is it unified? And, if it is unified, is its unity effected by the dramatist's use of masque and spectacle, or romance, or history, or some hybrid combination of these genres? The variety of interpretations for Henry VIII are not simply the results of academic vaudeville: Neither the clever sleight-of-hand tricks so often associated with scholarly ingenuity nor the balancing act on the tightrope of publish-or-perish adequately explains the disparate readings of the play. Instead, the wealth of critical disagreement demonstrates forcefully the serious questions readers have concerning the very nature of the play; as Frank Kermode put it in 1948, "What is Shakespeare's Henry VIII about?"



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