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King Lear (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

William Shakespeare
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
Price: 1.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

7 Mar 1994 Wordsworth Classics

Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex.

The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The textual editing takes account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal.

King Lear has been widely acclaimed as Shakespeare's most powerful tragedy. Elemental and passionate, it encompasses the horrific and the heart-rending. Love and hate, loyalty and treachery, cruelty and self-sacrifice: all these contend in a tempestuous drama which has become an enduring classic of the world's literature. In the theatre and on screen King Lear continues to challenge and enthral.

This Wordsworth edition of King Lear provides a comprehensive, integrated text of the play.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New Ed edition (7 Mar 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853260959
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853260957
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.4 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

King Lear stands alongside Hamlet as one of the most profound expressions of tragic drama in literature. Written between 1604 and 1605, it represents Shakespeare at the height of his dramatic power. Drawing on ancient British history, Shakespeare constructs a plot that reads like a fable in its clear-sighted but terrifying simplicity. The ageing King Lear calls his daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia to witness that he wishes "to shake all cares and business from our age" and divide his kingdom between his three children. When Cordelia refuses to flatter her father with sycophantic words of love, her banishment leads to chaos and civil war as Lear's disastrous "division of the kingdom" gives free reign to the greed and ambition of his two remaining daughters.

As Lear sinks into rage and madness he is deserted by everyone except his "bitter" Fool, the loyal Kent and the exiled Cordelia. The play descends into a nighmarish theatre of cruelty and absurdity as Lear realises he has "ta'en / Too little care" of the poverty and corruption of his kingdom, and his loyal but foolish friend Gloucester has his eyes gouged out. Metaphors of monstrosity and perversions of nature structure the dramatic action, and the play's ending remains one of the most harrowing in all of Shakespeare. Many see a profound despair and nihilism in King Lear, and would agree with Kent's conclusion that "All's cheerless, dark and deadly". Other writers have identified a radical but pessimistic critique of contemporary conceptions of kingship and absolutist authority, yet it remains a remarkable tragedy of public misjudgement and intensely private grief and anguish. --Jerry Brotton


" exemplary consideration of all the new bibliographic explication...Halio has done an admirable job. If all editions of Shakespeare and his contemporaries were similarly conceived and presented, study and understanding of Elizabethan-Jacobean-Caroline drama would be greatly improved." William B. Long, TEXT: Transactions of the Society for Textual Scholarship --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In translating Shakespeare to comic book form Ian Pollock must interpet stage direction and consider character development as a director might. To read Shakespeare is to miss both the aural experience and the visual, and necessaraly each players interpretation of his/her role. This comic book format helps replace some of that which is lost. Pollock's interpretation is excellent, and his illustrative style captures the ugliness of Lear very well. One does long for beauty in his illustrations from time to time, but on the whole his interpretation works. What is most facinating perhaps is pollock's appeal to children. The visual ellement helps illucidate the text and make difficult scenes intelligable to children. Middle School aged children will have little difficulty understanding and being facinated by this rich and wonderful play.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
I studied King Lear for my Enlgish Literature A-Level and this was a brilliant copy for that purpose. There is ample room for annotation and the book also provides explanation of words which may not be understood and provides other useful information. This copy of the play is perfect for students and I would recommend it to anyone. As for the play itself, it is highly enjoyable and dramatic and has definately increased my enjoyment of Shakespeare.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Maybe the fifteenth time I've read Lear (this time in the tiny red-leather RSC edition, during morning walks). Always impressed, especially with the curses and curse-like screeds. I can't stand Lear onstage, particularly the blinding of Gloster (so spelled in this edition). How sharper than a serpants teeth it is / to have a thankless child--though having a thankless parent like Lear, Act I Sc I, ain't so great either. I do love the Russian film Lear with music by Shostakovich, and the King's grand route through his bestiary of hawks and eagles.
I suppose this is Shakespeare's great assessment of homelessness. The undeservingly roofless. "Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are, / That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,/ How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides...defend you/ From seasons such as this?" Lear asks, and reflects, "O, I have ta'en too little care of this!" (3.4.25ff).
Shakespeare even anticipates Marx (not Groucho) when he has the blinded Gloster say, "So distribution should undo excess, / And each man have enough..." (4.1) He is speaking to his disguised son-madman. In fact, social justice emerges throughout this play, a theme as prominent as in Measure for Measure.
Lear is also his only play on retirement, which he apparently recommends against. Or perhaps Lear should have had a condo in Florida? Of course, his hundred knights, a problem for the condominium board, as it was for his daughters. And Shakespeare, who says in a sonnet he was "lame by fortune's despite" also addresses the handicapped here, recommending tripping blind persons to cheer them up.
Of course, Lear has his personal Letterman-Colbert, the Fool, so he doesn't need a TV in the electrical storm on the heath.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I am a theatre arts instructor and I feel that this book is an excellent introduction to Shakespeare's plays. I feel, as do many other people in my field, that the plays of William Shakespeare are meant to be seen as opposed to read. The comic book format gives you the best of both worlds. I have given this book to students who claim not to be able to understand Shakespeare and they literally tear through this book. Very high marks as far as this Professor is concerned!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so useful for quotations 27 Jun 2013
By Natalie
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Considering I bought this product to learn quotations for my A Level English Lit exam, it was incredibly disappointing to note the
various spelling and grammar issues within the play.

However the play is formatted in an easy to read style and is easy to navigate using the search system. As a student, having Shakespeare in electronic form has long-term benefits due to the ease of note making and bookmarking.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece 2 Mar 2010
Some say that if Shakespeare had only ever written this one play that it would still be performed and that we would still remember his name, thankfully though he gave us many more. King Lear is itself based on a Celtic legend that Shakespeare with his incomparable skill breathed new life in to.

When the world weary and old Lear decides to divide his kingdom amongst his three daughters things start to go wrong. His first two daughters know how to impress the king with their words, but alas his third and favourite daughter is more prone to speaking the truth, thus causing her to be disinherited and ultimately banished. Cordelia this youngest daughter has two suitors, the Duke of Burgundy and the King of France, however Burgundy relinquishes any hold that he may have on her due to the fact that she is now dowerless, not so the King of France who becomes more enamoured due to her forthrightness. Kent tries to intervene for Cordelia but finds himself banished.

It does not take long for Lear to realise his mistake when he is being countermanded and in effect ruled by his two elder daughters. Whilst this is going on Gloucester's bastard son has started his machinations to get his legitimate half-brother disinherited. With loyalty, madness and treachery this play will grab you and keep you absorbed, and will stay with you long after the last page has been read. Lear's decline into madness is powerful stuff, and Shakespeare really gets deep into the psyche of his characters, thus revealing the darkness not in just their souls but in all of us.

This is powerful and heady stuff that will have you gripped. With this edition there are extras that will hopefully help you to appreciate this play more, as well as being of help to an actor coming to this for the first time, or for students.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Purchase review
Shakespear has always been a legend as his work is used world wide. Enjoy reading his work & have also bought this for my niece who is using this piece of work for her A levels . Read more
Published 3 days ago by hamutendi musiyazwiriyo
5.0 out of 5 stars Yay English Literature
Well I bought this for my English class, and got shouted at because it is the wrong edition. It's alright. Not too keen on the massive backtrack to Edmund's personality... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tomothy
5.0 out of 5 stars The tragedy that transcends all tragedies - pointless deaths and...
Brilliant - a total and devastating tragedy - a plot of greed, loyalty and lust. A tale
of sadness and love which shuttles out of control to heartbreak, suicidal declaration,... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr. A. J. Dandy
1.0 out of 5 stars Was in very bad condition
It was sold as 'like new' but it was in very bad shape, also scribbled all over it. It was not nice
Published 5 months ago by Ana Thomas Lieb
4.0 out of 5 stars King Lear
This is not as easy to follow as most Shakespeare plays.There is quite a complicated plot and involvement of people which you might need before you start reading. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Winifred Gower
2.0 out of 5 stars King Lear - text only
I had hoped that this would include J Bratton's introduction as she is mentioned in connection with this edition. But there is nothing apart from a text. Very disappointing.
Published 11 months ago by Ginnie Redston
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
it's perfect for the use of a student, it has the play, a glossary of words, an explanation of words alongside the play, context, and themes and ideas on the play. Read more
Published 12 months ago by jacqueline
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
I am quite fussy when it comes to an edition of a Shakespeare text, due to the modern language translations. Read more
Published 12 months ago by tt93
4.0 out of 5 stars LIKED IT
Published 13 months ago by SHAWBO
1.0 out of 5 stars Replacement?
Sorry not sure what King Lear edition I am supposed to review here: the first order (which I have already given a one star rating for awful condition); or the replacement that I... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mrs susan a watkins
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