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King Lear (The Arden Shakespeare) Paperback – 9 May 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Arden Shakespeare; 3rd Revised edition edition (9 May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903436591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903436592
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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 --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

Format: Paperback
Although RA Foakes' Arden³ edition appeared some years after those of Wells & Taylor (Complete Oxford) and Jay L Halio (Cambridge) it did not follow their precedent of issuing separate texts based on Quarto and Folio originals. These early texts (Q 1608 and F 1623 respectively) occasionally offer quite different versions of the play and reconciling them to form a single, coherent whole is a task that is, arguably, less elegant than the dual edition solution. By comparison, Arden's text looks cumbersome, with numerous Q and F superscripts surrounding passages found exclusively in one or other source.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my son, who is in Year 12 at school and is studying this play. The book was recommended by his English teacher because it contains explanatory notes about the text of the play and it is very well explained and easy to understand.

I've not heard my son complain and he is coping with the course very well with the aid of this book.
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Format: Paperback
To be honest with you, I never really liked Shakespeare books, I never could understand it. Then I was told I had to buy a King Lear book and study it for my A levels. I searched high and low for a book I thought I could understand and get into, then came this marvellous book. It comes complete with a huge introduction about the play and (lo and behold)it also includes pictures of the marvellous play and how it was performed. It basically, is in script form but for the casual reader it also has definitions on the bottom of the page. A Shakespearean play has never been edited so good! I do understand the play now and thanks to R.A Foakes, I might even get a decent grade. For you people out there who don't understand Shakespeare but are curious about it, I recommend this book as it is a great read. But I warn you now, you might not be able to put it down!
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Format: Paperback
The Arden Shakespeare is an ideal script, guide and notes for students, young and old, although I would not recommend it to any studying lower than Advanced Level; the Oxford and Cambridge guides and notes are sufficient for GCSE and they have photographs of characters and performances to illustrate.

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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By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
'King Lear' is probably one of my favourite Shakespeare plays and is currently the one most studied at A-Levels. It is famed for it's depiction of the infirmity of old age and complex family politics. In some respects I think it'd be rather presumptuous of me to attempt to review Shakespeare. Someone so well known and influential wouldn't benefit from my opinions on their work, plus there are more scholarly and concise reviews out there. But I can comment on these Arden versions. Of all the Shakespeare I've read I've always found the Arden copies to be well laid out and to have excellent commentary and notes on the text. They really add to your understanding of Shakespeares outstanding plays and introduce you to the depth in his work. They have superb paper quality and are bound well, withstanding repeated readings and intensive study. For your collection of Shakespeare you can't do much better than Arden publications, some are quite hard to get hold of but it's worth the effort.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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Format: Paperback
The text itself is a conflated edition and the marks noting where it has been conflated are somewhat annoying. However, my main issue is, that on the first reading less than 24 hours after I bought it the pages are coming away from the glue binding them to the spine. I usually have a very high opinion of Arden edition Shakespeare but I have to say that this one has been shoddily constructed. Buy a more sturdy edition.
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