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

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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: 7.7 x 5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'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.

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

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King Lear is one of the bloodiest plays in Shakespeare's body of work.
Steven A. Peterson
Large margins are great for taking notes, and the book is very well bound, and is made with high quality paper.
Jason Breen
Yet it contains six scenes more, and the range of characters and the intricacy of the plot are greater.
Alexander Arsov

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jon Chambers on April 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Although RA Foakes' Arden3 edition appeared some years after those of Wells & Taylor (Complete Oxford) and Jay L Halio (Cambridge) it did not follow their precedent of issuing separate texts based on Quarto and Folio originals. These early texts (Q 1608 and F 1623 respectively) occasionally offer quite different versions of the play and reconciling them to form a single, coherent whole is a task that is, arguably, less elegant than the dual edition solution. By comparison, Arden's text looks cumbersome, with numerous Q and F superscripts surrounding passages found exclusively in one or other source.

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, aware of the limitations of scholarly speculation and in presenting both Q and F variants he allows the reader to make up her/his own mind.

Aside from this central controversy, Arden3 Lear has much to offer.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Joost Daalder on October 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
The rating of four stars is for the edition (R.A. Foakes's); the play is one of the greatest tragedies ever written, and of course deserves at least five stars.
It is not easy to find a a truly satisfactory edition of this play. An advantage of R.A. Foakes's is that he offers us a "conflated" text, i.e. one that aims to reconstruct something like what Shakespeare originally wrote by taking elements from the best two early printings rather than giving us those separately or by settling for the one rather than the other. I don't think, though, that Foakes's reconstruction is nearly as convincing as that of earlier editors who presented conflated texts. I am often unhappy about his glosses, too, and about his rather "trendy" introduction. Even so, the introduction and the notes do give us most of what we need, so long as we approach this material with independence of mind.
The PLAY is the thing, and whichever text we read it in (even, for example, in a text based just on that in the Folio), it is a great and moving work. Lear is an ageing king (about 80+), whose life has been sheltered and pampered. Although this equips him badly for "real" life, he is not intrinsically the evil tyrant that much current criticism tends to suggest - even his authoritarianism seems a matter of habit rather than anything else. At the beginning of the play he foolishly decides that he will give each of his three daughters a part of his kingdom. His intention had been to give the youngest daughter, Cordelia, with whom he planned to spend his "retirement", the biggest portion. However, rather than simply proceeding with his plan, he asks his daughters to declare the degree of their love for him, and this is where tangible trouble starts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
This masterpiece by Shakespeare deals with the fundamental problems of human existence. It has themes such as love, honor, and the possibility of the universe having no gods or Fate. It is masterfully written and contains incredible characterization. King Lear is a brilliantly realized symbol of power. You are convinced that he is too emotional, but you sympathize with him at the same time. Although the story is nihillistic in its views of such tings as love, it familarizes you with unforgettable characters, such as the emotional Lear and the emotionless Edmund. One of Shakespeare's greatest contributions to the human race.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
King Lear is based on a story whose truth is doubtful, recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth, of a king (Leir)who unwisely decides to divide his kingdom amongst his three daughters, their shares depending on how well they profess their love for him publically. His last and favored daughter, Cordelia, says that she cannot put her heart in her mouth and that she can only love her father as a daughter should, not to the exagerrated extent that her sisters have claimed, which sickens her. The foolish king, not realizing her sincerety, has her disowned and banished, along with the faithful Earl of Kent who attempts to speak on her behalf. From then on all goes downhill for the king. The tragedy is filled with realizations, especially by Lear in a very lucid sort of madness. It is beautifully written and has a strong subplot. The subplot provides a sharp contrast to Lear's situation and makes him, who was not sympathetic at first, heroic. A main theme is the placement of emphasis on appearances.
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