- 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 (102 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
King Lear (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Mar 1994
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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
"...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 alternate Paperback edition.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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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.
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.
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
very well used book for my english A level that I am currently studying, very useful.Published 3 months ago by Ben W.
This is a very good edition of King Lear, It contains extensive notes which were really useful for me when writing my A-level coursework on the play. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Oliver Davies
Very happy-perfect condition and arrived on time. Great price also.Published 8 months ago by Heather M