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King Lear (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Mar 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New Ed edition (5 Mar. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853260959
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853260957
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 1 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,555 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

Review

."..an 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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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback 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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am quite fussy when it comes to an edition of a Shakespeare text, due to the modern language translations. In some editions, the notes or translations are crammed in at the bottom of the page, which is difficult to read and can be at times confusing. The New Longman edition is, however, by far the best example I have found to date. The right hand page has the original text, and the notes and basic translations (where required) are on the left hand page next to it, making for easier reading.
I also found the edition had good notes in it.
I have used this particular edition through my own A Levels, degree, and am still using it as a teacher.
Would I recommend it? 100% yes!
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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, despair and wasteful deaths.
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By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Mar. 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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