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King Lear (Arden Shakespeare: Third Series) Paperback – May 9, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'By far the best edition of King Lear - in respect of both textual and other matters - that we now have.' -- John Lyon, English Language Notes

About the Author

R. A. Foakes is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has also taught or held fellowships at Yale, Birmingham, Durham, Kent, Toronto, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Australian National University, Canberra. He has written extensively on King Lear in his book, Hamlet versus Lear: Cultural Politics and Shakespeare's Art.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare; 3rd edition (May 9, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903436591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903436592
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.2 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King's New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later under James I, called the King's Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare's plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Mark on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this edition as a teaching supplement, not realizing that it is the folio version of the play. The words "quarto" and "folio" refer to the size of the pages in the two editions. Many secondary schools and universities use the quarto edition and a lot is left out of the folio--this version cuts out three hundred lines and adds one hundred new ones. The effect is that it alters the way the characters are shown. If you are reading the play with a class and they have a quarto version, while you are using your trusty teacher's Cambridge, chances are there will be a lot of blank expressions and confusion on their faces. The lines they see will not jibe with yours. The extra articles and class activities are great though--just make sure that if you use the Cambridge, you have your students buy only folio editions.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By C. Scanlon VINE VOICE on October 1, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I have reviewed several current editions of King Lear and other Shakespearean plays, and was somewhat disappointed in the Folger edition of King Richard III. Nevertheless, the Folger Shakespeare Library edition of King Lear appears to be both accessible and scholarly, with solid reasoning behind its balance of the First Quarto with the First Folio versions of this intense and telling tragedy which we do well to revisit now.

My first love will always be Prof. Tucker Brook's redaction in the The Tragedy Of King Lear (The Yale Shakespeare) which against the academic preferences of the time chose the First Quarto over the First Folio. The reasons given by the Late Prof. are compelling, and brought about a generation of conflated editions which combined the two versions. The Quarto came first in publication, of course, and is longer; the Folio is later and does not contain several lines present in the Quarto (I believe about three hundred) yet introduces several (perhaps one hundred) of its own.

And so we have a generation of productions which sought to combine the two. For instance we have an early recording of Paul Scofield as the King using a conflated edition and a later recording from his eighties in which only the Folio is used: King Lear (Naxos AudioBooks), following as it states the The Tragedy of King Lear (The New Cambridge Shakespeare), a strictly First Folio presentation.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Andy Morgan on July 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
King Lear was written at Shakespeare's most prolific period, a time in which he rapidly composed Hamlest, Othello, and Macbeth. I believe, without a moments hesitation, that King Lear is his greatest work, and probably the greatest play ever written. The plot moves quickly with excitement and action. The central themes of the play (among which are abandonment, unconditional love, and self-realization) are some of the most serious and important aspects of human nature. The play brings up many important quiestions: Why should we forgive others? Can we ever trust someone? All of these areanswered in this play. I recently saw a professional production of the play, and found myself quickly moving from emotions of fear, to laughing, to wrath, and at the climactic end of the play, breaking down into tears, having been drained by the plays rapid motion and tension. This play will live with me forever.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Maginot on May 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Nothing will come of nothing" the fatal line Lear utters to Cordelia sums up the entire play. The wizened king believes he is urging Cordelia not to refrain from expressing her love for him when in fact he is unwittingly prompting her to use the same insincere flattery as her sisters. When Cordelia refuses to acquiesce to Lear's wishes, he banishes her from the kingdom and divides it among her nefarious sisters Goneril and Reagan. In doing this Lear accepts their empty flattery instead of Cordelia's austere profession of paternal love. Goneril and Reagan quickly betray Lear and then turn against each other. Thus Lear's preference for empty flattery (nothing) destroys his authority and embroils his kingdom in civil strife (generates nothing).
This theme runs like a thread through other parts of the play. Gloucester's blindness toward the nature of his sons results in his literal blindness later in the play. Metaphorical blindness generates physical blindness (nothing comes of nothing). Similarly, after Edgar is banished he avoids further harm by shedding his identity and disguising himself as a vagrant. In the new order of things eliminating one's status results in no harm (another version of nothing coming from nothing).
The motif of nothing coming from nothing has psychological and political ramifications for the play. From a psychological point of view Lear fails to realize that the type of adulating love he wants from Cordelia no longer exists because Cordelia is no longer a child. Her refusal to flatter Lear is, in a sense, an act of adolescent rebellion. Lear's failure to recognize the fact that Cordelia still loves him but not with the totality of a child proves to be his undoing.
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