King Lear

Shakespeare, William. “King Lear.” The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974. 1249-1305

Reason read:Billy the Bard was born in April.

I think I have had to read King Lear half a dozen times in my academic career. It keeps coming back. It is interesting to note that this time I didn’t read it as a Pearl pick, but rather as a Pearl comparison. King Lear is compared to a Jane Smiley novel in More Book Lust in the chapter, “Big Ten Country: The Literary Midwest (Iowa) (p 27).

So, back to Mr. Shakespeare and his brilliant tragedy. To sum up the play in one sentence: this is the story of a king seeking to divide his kingdom among his three daughters based on who could articulate her love for him the best. Beyond that it is the tragedy of emotional greed – of wanting to be loved at any cost. It is the tragedy of politics and family dynamics. Youngest daughter Cordelia is unwilling to conform to her father’s wishes of exaggerated devotion. Isn’t the last born always the rebel in the family? As a result Cordelia’s portion of the kingdom is divided among her two sisters, Goneril and Regan. The story goes on to ooze betrayal and madness. Lear is trapped by his own ego and made foolish by his hubris.

Author trivia: it makes me giggle to think that Shakespeare was married to a woman named Anne Hathaway, only not that Anne Hathaway.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called (as mentioned before), “Big Ten Country: the Literary Midwest (Iowa)” (p 27).



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