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The History Of King Lear: A Tragedy by Nahum…

The History Of King Lear: A Tragedy (edition 2010)

by Nahum Tate

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Title:The History Of King Lear: A Tragedy
Authors:Nahum Tate
Info:Kessinger Publishing, LLC (2010), Hardcover, 72 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:drama, fiction

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The history of King Lear by Nahum Tate



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Much derided for giving Shakespeare's King Lear a happy ending, Nahum Tate's The History of King Lear is a fascinating read and reflection on readers' and audience's expectations. Most noticeably subtleties are removed and characters are either black or white; Gonerill and Regan ('proud imperial sisters') are more villainous and Lear is less blameable. Cordelia is washed almost to whiteness and purity and consequently she becomes less interesting. She is good and suffers patiently. There is no stubborn Cordelia, no determined daughter invading her father's divided lands with a French army to restore order. Here she waits for a rescuer to arrive to set people and country in their proper place again. In the final scene she lives to marry and 'crowned, / Th'imperial grace fresh blooming on her brow.' Late seventeenth-century and early eighteenth-century audiences would have sighed because, unlike the original, 'truth and virtue shall at last succeed.' Cordelia's apotheosis and happiness flusters her a little and with typical (Tate) modesty proclaims: 'I blush to own myself o'er paid / For all my sufferings past.'

Perhaps this is Shakespeare lite or Shakespeare traduced. Well, as Mrs Barry (who played Tate's Cordelia) said in the epilogue: 'still so many master-touches shine, / Of that vast hand that first laid this design'.
  Sarahursula | May 22, 2014 |
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