- Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Signet; Revised ed. edition (June 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451526937
- ISBN-13: 978-0451526939
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 268 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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King Lear (Signet Classics) Revised ed. Edition
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From Library Journal
This marvelous new installation to the revamped "Pelican Shakespeare" series contains both the original 1608 version as big Will wrote it and the 1623 scaled-down and reworked version with which we are all familiar. If that wasn't enough, this edition also sports a scholarly introduction and notes on the texts. All that for less than the price of lunch at McDonald's makes this a remarkable bargain for all academic and public libraries. Don't play the fool; buy this.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Praise for William Shakespeare: Complete Works
“A remarkable edition, one that makes Shakespeare’s extraordinary accomplishment more vivid than ever.”
–James Shapiro, professor, Columbia University, bestselling author of A Year in the Life of Shakespeare: 1599
“Two eminent Shakespeareans . . . have applied modern editing techniques and recent scholarship to correct and update the First Folio. . . . Superb.”
–The New York Times
“A feast of literary and historical information.”
–The Wall Street Journal
“I look forward to using it over many years, enjoying Bate’s perceptive comments, trusting Rasmussen’s textual scholarship.”
–Peter Holland, president of the Shakespeare Association of America and editor of Shakespeare Survey
From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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King Lear is a brilliant play, all around. Between the family ties, the love and lust, and just the crazy existential dialogue, it's just a great read all-around.
The criticism I have is that some of the elucidation in this book, while as clear as one would wish, is overly contemporary, thus quite jarring. Much current slang that will evenutally pass into oblivion is used. In many cases the original text would have been fine, even in the "translation" to modern English.
Nevertheless, this is quite a useful tool for anyone wanting a complete handle on the play.
King Lear is a great tragedy. It is very enjoyable.
The motif of "nothing," "nothingness" is hammered throughout the play. Having given away his love and receiving none from his remaining daughters Lear becomes 'nothing,' ontologically empty ("Lear's shadow"). Edgar, likewise experiences his rejection by his father - on faulty and conspiratorial premises - as an annihilation of his being ("Edgar I nothing am"). "He childed like I fathered," says Edgar of his godfather Lear. The comparison is that between two egos who know only the need to love and have been annihilated by the rejections they have experienced from the individuals whom they love. Edgar's transformation into Tom of Bedlam is not only a practical disguise but an acting out of this loss of identity (consider that he continues to use mad Tom's vocal mannerisms even in soliliquy [III.vii.126]) and his refusal to reveal himself to his father perhaps until he is ready to undertake an act which will justify his being loved again (III.vii. 121-124).
Those who love give away all; those who feel no love take everything in order to make up for the emptiness. Edmund, Regan, Goneril and Cornwall seem always conscious of their desire to conquer even more power. Yet those who suffer hardship in this play seem to react in two ways - 1) they experience *ever increasing degrees of empathy,* by which they commit themselves to the relief of others through acts of, and belief in, social justice, and 2) they *imagine a system of divine justice,* by which they attempt to reconcile themselves to what's been lost. Edgar testifies that he has witnessed madmen, buffeted by nature, threatening others to do them enforced "charity" by piercing their own numbed arms in terrifying display. We have just seen such a thing occur with Edmund in Act II, scene i. We also know that he has called upon Nature as his goddess. Thus what we have here (like 'the Turk' in "Othello") is a rare Shakespearean metaphor: Edmund is Nature. King Lear's own pronouncement to the howling storm on the heath - "Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters... I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children/ You owe me no subscription: then, let fall/ Your horrible pleasure" further illustrates the point. In "King Lear," Nature is the lack of love. It is loveless and existential. It is godless; god and the astrological being an ego defense. It is "nothing."
The poetry of "King Lear" is magnificent, perhaps not quite achieving the measureless heights of "Macbeth" or "Othello," but sonorous and extraordinarily beautiful. The two feuding brothers, Edgar and Edmund, are among Shakespeare's most profound creations. The Duke of Cornwall is one of his great monsters. And King Lear is one of his most tragic heroes. The Folgers editions conflates the Quarto and Folio editions. This is common practice for Shakespeare but both versions are so different (Shakespeare died before he could edit his complete ouvre for publication) that many editors have recommended to their readers that they embrace either one or the other. I personally would not recommend this since I think thematically the work is more difficult to interpret without the combining of a few lines found in only one or the other of the two editions (Q's "He childed like I fathered," not found in F, goes a long way towards explaining Edgar's character). There are so many classic scenes in this masterpiece of masterpiece, and so much characterization filled with insight and wisdom, and subtlety in its construction and beauty in its poetry, that reading or re-reading this play is an experience quite unlike any other. It is *the* major work by one of *the* major artists in world culture.