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King Lear (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Mar 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 63 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 (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,945 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

Praise for "William Shakespeare: Complete Works"
"A remarkable edition, one that makes Shakespeare's extraordinary accomplishment more vivid than ever."
-James Shapiro, professor, Columbia University, bestselling author of "A Year in the Life of Shakespeare: 1599"
"Two eminent Shakespeareans . . . have applied modern editing techniques and recent scholarship to correct and update the First Folio. . . . Superb."
"-The New York Times"
"A feast of literary and historical information."
"-The Wall Street Journal"
"I look forward to using it over many years, enjoying Bate's perceptive comments, trusting Rasmussen's textual scholarship."
-Peter Holland, president of the Shakespeare Association of America and editor of "Shakespeare Survey"

"From the Trade Paperback edition." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
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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