3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2006
This was one of my favorite Shakespeare tragedies because despite Lear bringing the misfortune on himself, the reader truly does feel for sorry for him. When Cordelia could not declare her love to Lear like her sisters did, he takes this as a lack of love for him. Of course it wasn't, but Lear's desperate neccesity for admiration from those around eventually becomes his downfall.
While all of that action is going on, Gloucester's illegitimate son, Edmund is on the rise to power, hoping to overtake his brother. King Lear is obviously a tragedy, but there is one aspect of it at the end that is truly rewarding to the reader. Though none of Shakespeare's plays are, read this one and you definetly won't be dissapointed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2013
As i approach the same problem of King Lear, namely, how to divide my accumulated life-earnings and accompanying stuff, King Lear points out the mistake of pre-allocation to heirs. If flattery is wanted, his method was not satisfactory for his greedy daughters said what he wanted to hear and poor Cordelia could not pump up her affections which were honest.
If life were a stage, how many times would we say, "Stop. No, no, that is not what I want. Go back and rewrite that first Act and then we'll see how things unfold."
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 1999
I won't review Shakespeare or King Lear but instead focus on the quality of this audio production.
I am familiar with the BBC version of Lear, with Sir John Gielgud as Lear and Kenneth Branagh as Kent. I prefer the BBC version of King Lear to the Caedmon version.
For example, the clown in the BBC version is an older man, poignant and fascinating, while the clown in the Caedmon production is a young man, shrill and annoying.
The Caedmon Audio Skakespeare series is a great resource but has occasional flaws. Their production of Lear is an example.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2014
Really true to the play! Does have a few word discrepancies however thats normal to all of the versions of the plays. One of the downsides is that it doesnt have the normal line numbers for each Act. But it does provide some commentary and notes on the more popular lines. Great online version!
on February 1, 2013
There's an amusing quote on the back from a member of some Shakespearean society about how this book is a vital tool for young readers who cannot appreciate Shakespeare. This just smacks of pretension, and is presumably a remnant of those pre-Sparknotes days when students cheated with comic books, rather than simply googling summaries as they do now. This is a fine, fine book, and a whole heck of a lot more than a mere learning tool. Shakespeare wrote play, and plays are meant to be performed, to be seen rather than read. This book reads like a unique Lear production, with Pollock's lovely art providing every element except the gorgeous prose; not a single word has been changed or omitted.
Pollock has said that he took up this project for the chance to do a comic book, loving the Beano more than the Bard. I find this rather extraordinary, in that Pollock is able to capture the characters so well; his understanding of the cast suggests someone with a great passion for Lear. His talent for caricature is a beauty, his paintings capturing the broad, iconic look of the characters as well as the little subtle touches. He nails the players better than most actors have. He's also does a great job making the transition from illustrator/single-panel cartoonist to a full blown panelist. There can be a bit of a disconnect from panel to panel at times, but his compositions are always perfectly arranged; this extends from the panels to the pages as a whole, with each element carefully balanced and weighed together. Rather than the usual naturalistic flow of most comics, he treats each page as an illustration in it's entirety and avoids the usual painted comic pitfall of placing the focus upon pretty pictures that don't really tell a story.
This is more than a dinky novelty; this is a superb play with virtuoso performances all around. This is some d*mn good s***, man. Buy it.
on December 11, 2012
Of the four great Shakespearean tragedies, indeed the darkest is King Lear. King Lear starts with the foolish decision of an Old King to split his kingdom. Then it proceeds to get worse. "How sharper than a serpent's tooth to have a thankless child." is the line that comes first to mind when thinking about this tale of woe.
But this story brings about many human problems that indeed are with us today. The idea of family inheritance, and who should get what still vexes us in modern times. Indeed have we not all seen families torn apart by the decisions made by those who have passed away. That Regan and Goneril each die of their own greed is a part and parcel of the cathartic nature Shakespeare offers. However, the conclusion of many modern estate issues is no less tragic.
Also, how does one deal with dementia in ones we love? How can that dementia make the person's reason so flawed that advantage is taken of them? These are other questions of this story that indeed comes to pass. Why cannot Lear understand that Cordelia really does love him? Yet, by the time he even gets an idea, it is too late. In much the same way, Gloucester allows himself to be gulled by Edmund. Edgar of course disguises himself, and this plot line, where Gloucester, as Oedipus in the Greek tragedy, has his eyes gouged out, are indeed valuable to make the play's dimness come even further to light.
King Lear is so dark that there is even little hope to grasp even at the end. To me it is the ultimate Shakespearean tragedy. It also shows some heroic matters. Albany is loyal even though cuckolded by his wife. Kent is the picture of loyalty, even to his own humiliation. Kent's abruptness is his strength and also his downfall. Most wise kings accept contrary opinions. When Kent is banished at the beginning, yet disguises himself to continue service, one sees the lengths the truly loyal will go in order to serve their masters. Edgar's disguise and aid to his father also gives relief into the state of the Kingdom. When the good characters have to hide out, it is no good time to be in the kingdom. The luxurious and seamy reign and despair is unending. Such is the case in this darkest of the dark of the great Shakespearean tragedies.
I came to Lear later than I came to Hamlet. And yet it too seemed to me to rage in connection with my own father's light. It too seemed to interpret and be interpreted by him. Lear in his great pain driven to madness by grief was like my father a great king wounded into screaming by life. The Lear story , the three daughters , ungrateful Goneril and Regan, and lovely Cordelia true to her troth , loving with the mean and proportion a daughter's love required- that story and the father's dispossession and madness and grief and reconnection with the loving daughter and her death and his grief breaking into madness- that story the story of the tragedy itself- as too the secondary plot with there too a father misapprehending the virtue of one child, and being deceived by another- that plot and the heart of the Lear story did not speak to me at the time. No , just Lear poor bare forked unencumbered man himself this spoke to me .For again in the great language of grief and madness came those metaphors which likened themselves to the kind of thing we heard every night from my father around the kitchen table. So I did not then read Lear truly and wholly, but rather took for myself some part of it which connected with my life.
A great work of art is not simply all the readings made of it, and not even all the misreadings made of it, but all the truth it reveals and inspires in us. Again it told my father's story and suggested that story greater than any Literature could perhaps be Literature one day.
And this without Cordelia's death and without ' Never, never, never , never, never. Why should a horse a rat have life and her no breath at all? With only a different cry and one for us anyway more painful still ' No, a thousand times no '
on February 11, 2008
This is a conflated edition of King Lear, with Foakes combining the two original sources. When the chips are down -- that is, when one cannot have both versions -- he tends to opt for the later (Folio) one. This is especially so in the last scene where this choice produces a somewhat less bleak ending.
On each page of the play's text about half the space is taken up with notes. These can, by and large, be ignored if you want to enjoy the play, but can be highly useful if something puzzles you. They cover a variety of matters, such as the meaning of now obscure word, interpretation when it is not clear what word is actually meant, choices where the two originals have difference words, often explaining the choice, possible stage direction or ways of staging the play and so on. They are usually well done, though possibly excessive.
A long essay introducing the play explains the editor's approach, comments on some critical issues, and comments on various stagings of the play. These are informative and often stimulating, with Foakes not being stridently attached to any one interpretation. There is available elsewhere an incredibly large amount of comment on all aspects of King Lear and how to interpret it, most of which Foakes wisely ignores. The play is the thing, and one of the advantages of reading it (as opposed to atending a production) is that one can contemplate the different interpretations and emphases that are possible. To a large extent Foakes sets this up, and then lets the reader proceed, rather than forcing a particular version, as happens (often very badly when directors want to demonstrate their originality) inevitably with a staged -- or filmed or audio -- production.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2003
When rating Shakespeare, I always rate his works as compared to other Shakespearean works; otherwise, the consistently high marks wouldn't be very informative. For instance, if this were to be rated against the general run of literature extant, it would certainly rate five stars. Even by the standard I'm using, it's close.
Like "Hamlet", this is a tragedy that still manages to have some very funny lines; as in "Hamlet", this is generally due to characters either pretending to be crazy, or truly being crazy, so it's something of a dark humor, but humorous it still is. Lear's jester has some great lines doing what only a jester could get away with (and what the reader wants to do): telling the King that he's an idiot when he's done something ignorant beyond belief. Edgar, son of Gloucester, banished by his father for supposed treason, plays the part of a mad beggar to save his life, and when Lear, honestly crazy from grief, meets up with him, their conversations rival anything in Hamlet for manic nonsense that still manages to make a certain warped and poigniant sense.
It's a shame that the language has changed so much since Shakespeare's time, so that the masses are unable to enjoy and appreciate his wit; his plays were not written to be enjoyed only by the literati; they were intended to entertain and, yes, enlighten the masses as well as the educated; his plots seem to be right in line with either modern romantic comedies (in his comedies) or modern soap operas (in his tragedies). Modern audiences would love him, if only they could understand him; unfortunately, when one "modernizes" the language in a Shakespearean play, what one is left with is no longer Shakespeare, but simply a modern adaptation. Which, if done well, is not without value, but is still far short of the original.
King Lear`s fatality cannot be invocated as a divine curse. When Lear renounces to be at charge of his kingdom wrought with the ferocity of his soldiers and irrigated with the blood of his troops, begins his own fall, because you cannot be king without a kingdom.
The nature denied Lear the possibility of a male inheritor, so under the perspective of his imminent death, decides to bet in the unpredictable roulette of the emotions a test of love to find out which one of his daughters loves him more.
Betrayal and deception because his favourite daughter replies him with flippancy and without any signal of sincere gratitude. This fact will untie his repressed anger, proceeding to disinherit her. This is the decisive spark that will ignite the stage in the primary plot.
In the secondary but no least important dramatic tie, Gloucester will believe in Edmund's eloquence and juridical device supported by a false letter in which Edgar claims unsaid ambitions. Gloucester will lose himself at the moment he has preferred to believe his illegitimate son instead his legitimate Edgar.
Betrayal and distrust; jealous and rivalries; perversion and immorality will convey to all these personages into a fatidic whirlwind of predictable consequences.
All tragedy traduces and reaffirms the aspiration of the human being to enhance himself through an act of unexpected valour, to acquire a new level of his grandness in front of the obstacles, the unknown that finds in the world as well as the society of his time. Andre Bonnard
One of the most important works of this colossus of the dramaturgy. A must - read.