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King Lear (Dover Thrift Editions) by William…
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King Lear (Dover Thrift Editions) (original 1994; edition 1994)

by William Shakespeare

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Member:ironeggs
Title:King Lear (Dover Thrift Editions)
Authors:William Shakespeare
Info:Dover Publications (1994), Paperback, 144 pages
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King Lear by William Shakespeare (1994)

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This is especially devastating because (sorry, Aristotle's Poetics, but indeed because) it departs from the conventions of good Greek tragedy. Nobody's led astray slickly by their tragic flaw;* Lear's ennobled by suffering perhaps but at the start he's no philosopher king (as I'd envisioned) but a belching, beer can crushing Dark Ages thug lord who definitely brings it on himself, but not in any exquisite "his virtue was his fall" way. Cordelia is, not an ungrateful, but an ungracious child whose tongue is a fat slab of ham and who can't even manage the basic level of social graces to not spark a family feud that leaves everyone killed (surely a low bar!!). Goneril and Regan are straight-up venial malice, Shakespeare's Pardoner and Summoner; Edmund, obviously, charismatic, but a baaaad man; and the default good guys, the ones with the chance to win the day and transform this blood-filled torture show into two hours' pleasing traffic of the stage, obviously fumble it bigly (Albany, unbrave and too subtle; Kent, brave and too unsubtle; Gloucester, a spineless joke; and what is Edgar doing out in that wilderness when he should be teaming up with Cordelia and Kent to plan an invasion that's a MacArthuresque comeback and not a disaster, to go down as the plucky band of good friends who renewed the social compact with their steel and founded a second Camelot, a new England). They're not all monsters, and there are frequent glimmers of greatness, but they fuck it all up; in other words, they're us.

And then Lear's madness has much too much of, like, an MRA drum circle meeting, with the Fool and Kent and Edgar/John o'Bedlam (that's a name, that) farting around the wastes going "Fuckin' bitches, can't live with em, can't smack em one like they deserve" (though of course this is a Shakespearean tragedy, so everyone pretty much gonna get smacked one sooner or later). Not tragic flaws, in other words, but just flaws, with only glimmers of the good, and all the more devastating for that because all the more real. It's haaard to keep it together for a whole lifetime and not degenerate into a sad caricature of you at your best, or you as you could have been, and I wonder how many families start out full of love and functional relations and wind up kind of hating each other in a low key way just because of the accretion of mental abrasions plus the occasional big wound and because life is long.

This seems like a family that just got tired of not hating each other, standing in for a social order that's gotten tired of basically working from day to day, and everyone's just itching to flip the table and ruin Thanksgiving. I have little faith, post-play, that Edgar or Albany in charge will salvage the day--historically, of course, their analogues did not--and it's gonna be a long hard road to a fresh start (we don't of course try to find one such in the actual history--I mean, 1066?--pretty sure fresh starts don't happen in actual history--but I trust the general point is clear). This seems like the most plausible/least arbitrary of Shakespeare's tragedies, I am saying here, and thus also the most desolate, and one with lessons for any family (cf., say, Hamlet, with its very important lessons for families where the mother kills the dad and marries his brother and the dad's ghost comes back to tell the son to kill his uncle, a niche market to say the least), and one that I'll revisit again and again.

*Side note, my friend Dan calls me "My favourite Hamartian," and I'm recording that here because we may grow apart and I may forget that but I never want to forget really and so, hope to find it here once more ( )
1 vote MeditationesMartini | Jan 8, 2017 |
Even with a convoluted plot, Shakespeare can't really do any wrong. Following the folly and descent into madness of the titular King after he divides his kingdom between his daughters, King Lear is fascinating even if you don't always follow it minutely. The anguish and rage of Lear is compelling, and witnessing him turned upon by those he has favoured makes this one of Shakespeare's most unrelentingly dark plays. Cordelia has a hard-nosed grace, and her two sisters scheme all too realistically.

The rest of the characters became rather muddled in my mind: I lost touch of who of Edmund or Edgar I should be rooting for, and don't think I ever saw much difference between the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall, or the various retinues. Because of this muddle in my mind, a lot of the subplot with Gloucester was lost on me. This is one of those instances where Shakespeare's archaic prose helps to derail the reader rather than excite him.

That said, amidst the tangled strands of plot there are some great scenes charged with pure emotion. When a common servant draws his sword to try and prevent his master gouging out his rival's eyes, simply because he finds it abhorrent, we are there with him. We are chilled when we listen to Lear's eloquent promises of vengeance, and are swept along with his mad anguished ravings of loss at the end. (According to the introduction of my Wordsworth Classics edition, Samuel Johnson found the ending of the play so tragic he was reluctant to read it (pg. 16).) Even though it is hard to follow, you still finish King Lear with the feeling that you've read something astonishing. ( )
1 vote MikeFutcher | Dec 28, 2016 |
Psycho women, eyes gouged out, and crazy people. I obviously loved this. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
Extraordinarily powerful, even for Shakespeare. Wish I didn't rush through most of it. ( )
  chronoceros | Jul 15, 2016 |
There are three main reasons for the disorder already occurring by the end of Act I. The first and most obvious is Lear's madness. He certain seems to be loosing it a bit, and his crazed banishment of Cordelia and Kent couldn't possibly have done anything but harm to him. The second reason is Cordelia's sister's treachery. It could be argued that they appear to be trying to protect him and their people by taking away his knights, he is crazy after all, if it weren't for Cordelia's parting words to them; "I know you what you are;/And, like a sister, am most loth to call/Your faults as they are nam'd. Love well our father:/To your professed bosoms I commit him:/But yet, alas, stood I within his grace, I would prefer him to a better place." And a few lines later; "Time shall unfold what plighted cunning/Who cover faults, at last shame them derides." These lines seem to indicate that Cordelia knows that Goneril and Regan are not only flattering Lear for gain, but also that they hold him in contempt, and will likely do him harm, and revealing the second harbinger of disorder.

The third indicator of the chaos to come is Edmund. I feel bad for him, for the contempt others hold him in because of the doings of his parents, but he quickly does what he can to dispel my pity for him with his evil attitudes as he works to turn his father and brother against one another. I find it ironic that he distains his father's belief in fate through astrology, yet confesses that because of when he was born he was supposed to be 'rough and lecherous,' yet doesn't believe himself to have those traits he was just showing.

Shakespeare's purpose in showing this disorder seems to come from the idea of dividing his kingdom. A divided kingdom would often lead to civil war and chaos, so Lear's deliberate dividing of the kingdom would probably have been viewed as deliberately inviting disorder.

Power in England was structured in a pyramid. The king on top, and wealth and power went to a few nobles who had all the money. Lear was trying to disrupt that structure in a way that would have alarmed the people watching the play. Cordelia took a great risk in not bowing to her father's wishes, as his denying her dowry could have driven away both her suitors, leaving her alone and destitute in a world that didn't favor lone women. In her case, however Cordelia's suitor from France still marries her, which would be very unusual since she had no dowry, and she wouldn't gain him an alliance with England.

Family dynamics can change depending on the health of a person, as others may come into their lives and as children grow up. Cordelia was Lear's favorite child, yet when she would not lie to him with flattery, he cast her off. Why? Did he not realize that her impending marriage would change is relationship with her? She would still love him, of course, but even with the play being in pre-Christian era, the belief would probably have been that the wife's foremost alliegence should be to her husband, and Lear should have understood this. In fact, it seems strange that he would have even questioned this part of the structure of society at all.

No one has a perfect family. This is shown in Edgar and Edmund's family. Gloster (or Gloucester as some versions call him) may have been unfaithful to his wife, it's never stated whether she was alive at the time of Edmund's conception. If Gloster was unfaithful to his wife than he was dishonest and breaking one of the oldest understandings of marriage. If Edgar's mother had already died, that Gloster was not responsible enough to remarry, and to marry Edmund's mother, or at least admit himself Edmund's father when the boy was a child, instead of waiting until Edmund was old enough to distinguish himself, and in doing so, add to Gloster's reputation. It seems very unfair that Edmund, and almost any other illigitmate child born until the the late 1900s should be punished for something that their parents did. Yet neither should Edmund take out his misfortunes on his brother, who was, in all probability, guiltless in tormenting him. After all, Edgar trusts Edmund completely, which does not seem like an attitude he would hold had he tormented Edmund before. I think that Gloster could have stopped his fate had he treated Edmund with kindness from the beginning of his life, rather than waiting until Edmund could add to his reputation to acknowledge him.

I don't actually seem him mocking Edmund, so much as simply being ashamed of his illegitimacy because it was Gloster's own act that was the cause of Edmund's bastardy. As Gloster was speaking to Kent, he was very frank about the manner of Edmund's conception, to the point that we would say he was being rude to Edmund, but really, for the time, the fact that he had acknowledged Edmund as his son at all was better than many bastards would have gotten. For this reason I think that more than anything it was the fact that he took so long to acknowledge Edmund, that led to Edmund's bitterness and Gloster's downfall.

(This review is patched up from posts I made on an online Shakespeare class) ( )
  NicoleSch | Jun 1, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baudissin, Wolf Heinrich GrafTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brissaud, PierreIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooke, C. F. TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buck, Philo M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eccles, MarkEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foakes, R. A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Günther, FrankTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hallqvist, Britt G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harbage, AlfredEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, G. B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jylhä, YrjöTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellogg, BrainerdEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kittredge, George LymanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamar, Virginia A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mowat, Barbara A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muir, KennethEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Noguchi, IsamuIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgel, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Radspieler, HansEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ribner, IrvingEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ridley, M. R.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weis, RenéEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werstine, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wieland, Christoph MartinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolfit, DonaldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Ran (1985IMDb)
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I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.
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Although the last, not least.
Nothing will come of nothing.
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is

To have a thankless child!
Oh, that way madness lies; let me shun that.
The worst is not

So long as we can say, "This is the worst."
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This entry is for the COMPLETE "King Lear" only. Do not combine it with abridgements, simplified adaptations or modernizations, Cliffs Notes or similar, or videorecordings of performances, and please separate any that are here.

It should go without saying that this work should also not be combined with any other plays or combinations of plays, or any of its many adaptations (audio, video, reworking, etc.).
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Hinn aldurhnigni konungur Lér hefur ákveðið að skipta konungsríki sínu á milli dætra sinna þriggja, og skal hlutur hverrar dóttur fara eftir því hvað ást hennar á honum er mikil. En hvað vottar skýrast um ást barna til foreldra? Auðsveipni og fagurgali eldri systranna tveggja eða sjálfstæði og hreinskilni Kordelíu þeirrar yngstu? Æfur af reiði yfir því sem Lér telur skort á ást, afneitar hann Kordelíu og skiptir ríkinu í tvennt á milli eldri systranna. Í hönd fara tímar grimmúðlegrar valdabaráttu, svikráða og upplausnar og það líður ekki á löngu þar til eldri systurnar hafa hrakið föður sinn á burt.Meistaraverk Shakespeares veitir einstaka innsýn í heim hinna valdaþyrstu, blekkingar þeirra og klæki. Tímalaust listaverk fullt af visku um átök kynslóðanna, drambið, blinduna, brjálsemina og það að missa allt. Lér konungur er kynngimagnað og stórbrotið leikrit, einn frægasti harmleikur  Shakespeares. Verkið á erindi við fólk á öllum tímum og er sviðsett í leikhúsum um víða veröld á ári hverju.Hér er á ferð ný þýðing Þórarins Eldjárns á þessu sígilda meistaraverki sem gerð er í tilefni af uppsetningu Þjóðleikhússins á verkinu leikárið 2010-2011.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 074348276X, Mass Market Paperback)

Folger Shakespeare Library

The world's leading center for Shakespeare studies

Each edition includes:

• Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

• Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

• Scene-by-scene plot summaries

• A key to famous lines and phrases

• An introduction to reading Shakespeare's language

• An essay by an outstanding scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

• Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library's vast holdings of rare books

Essay by Susan Snyder

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare's printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:02 -0400)

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An ageing king makes a capricious decision to divide his realm among his three daughters according to the love they express for him. When the youngest daughter refuses to take part in this charade, she is banished, leaving the king dependent on her manipulative and untrustworthy sisters.… (more)

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