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Explore this classic Shakespeare play with York Notes on William Shakespeare's "King Lear"
King Lear (The Arden Shakespeare) Paperback – 9 May 1997
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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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
R. A. Foakes is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has also taught or held fellowships at Yale, Birmingham, Durham, Kent, Toronto, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Australian National University, Canberra. He has written extensively on "King Lear "in his book, "Hamlet versus Lear: Cultural Politics and Shakespeare's Art."
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Top Customer Reviews
Foakes is well aware that his single, 'conflated' text isn't as fashionable as those of the 'revisionists' mentioned above, who believe that the Folio text of Lear represents Shakespeare's revised and final draft, and that modern editors should not pick and mix between Q and F but respect the integrity of the two early sources. While seemingly reactionary, Foakes is in fact countering the new orthodoxy of Halio et al. In his view, their 'dogmatic and purist stance ... abandons the idea of King Lear as a single work of which we have two versions.' He is cautious and level-headed in his approach, acknowledging the limitations of scholarly speculation. And in presenting both Q and F variants he allows the reader to make up his/her own mind.
Aside from this central controversy, the Arden³ Lear has much to offer.Read more ›
I've not heard my son complain and he is coping with the course very well with the aid of this book.
The Ardens have lengthy sections on backgrounds to the plays and copious annotations and notes on the script itself; on some pages, contingent on the complexity of the text concerned, the notes take up more of the page than the script itself (one reason for not recommending it below Advanced Level). It has a vast source of detail, history and information on the play. They are also very well produced, sewn sections glued in, making them strong and long lasting.
Highly recommended for Advanced Level students or above.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
I think that the Arden Shakespeare editions are the best for reading Shakespeare and this is no exception.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Arden Shakespeare remains the best edition of Shakespeare's works - scholarly, informative and with a wealth of notes that open up the text to experts and ordinary readers alike. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Claudia Saatchi