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King Lear

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Shakespeare’s King Lear challenges us with the magnitude, intensity, and sheer duration of the pain that it represents. Its figures harden their hearts, engage in violence, or try to alleviate the suffering of others. Lear himself rages until his sanity cracks. What, then, keeps bringing us back to King Lear? For all the force of its language, King Lear is almost equally powerful when translated, suggesting that it is the story, in large part, that draws us to the play.

The play tells us about families struggling between greed and cruelty, on the one hand, and support and consolation, on the other. Emotions are extreme, magnified to gigantic proportions. We also see old age portrayed in all its vulnerability, pride, and, perhaps, wisdom—one reason this most devastating of Shakespeare’s tragedies is also perhaps his most moving.

The authoritative edition of King Lear from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:

-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

-Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

-Scene-by-scene plot summaries

-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases

-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language

-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books

-An annotated guide to further reading

Essay by Susan Snyder

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit Folger.edu.

338 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1605

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About the author

William Shakespeare

24.8k books41.7k followers
William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. Scholars believe that he died on his fifty-second birthday, coinciding with St George’s Day.

At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime, and in 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's.

Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians hero-worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are consistently performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

According to historians, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets throughout the span of his life. Shakespeare's writing average was 1.5 plays a year since he first started writing in 1589. There have been plays and sonnets attributed to Shakespeare that were not authentically written by the great master of language and literature.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,187 reviews
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.5k followers
February 11, 2020

I've read Lear many times, and, although I didn't learn much about the play this reading, I did learn a little about myself. I have always loved the play, but in the past I found its injustice and evil nigh overpowering, its victims pathetically guiltless, its perspective verging on the nihilistic. Now, though, I see goodness and grace everywhere: in Cordelia's plain-spoken honesty and love for Lear, in Kent and Gloster's loyalty, in Edgar's bizarre attempt to heal his father's soul through stratagem, and--perhaps most important--in the way Lear himself grows in understanding and compassion even as he grows in grief and madness.

The bad guys have their moments too: the devotion of Oswald to Goneril, Edmund's tardy but apparently sincere attempt to save Cordelia and Lear's lives, and--my favorite--the heroic effort of Cornwall's servant to intervene in the blinding of Gloster by wounding the vicious master whom he has served loyally all his life.

Goodness seems to triumph here even in the midst of loss, and I no longer feel the evil to be overwhelming: I merely bow my head in thanksgiving for goodness and tremble in reverence before the mystery of life.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
August 17, 2021
King Lear, William Shakespeare

King Lear is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. It depicts the gradual descent into madness of the title character, after he disposes of his kingdom giving bequests to two of his three daughters based on their flattery of him, bringing tragic consequences for all. Derived from the legend of Lear of Britain, a mythological Pre-Roman Celtic king.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «شاه لیر»، «لیر شاه»؛ «نمایشنامه شاه لیر»؛ «الملک لیر»؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ انتشاراتیها: (بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، علمی فرهنگی، ورجاوند، نشر مرکز، پارسه)؛ ادبیات انگلستان؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1973میلادی و در سال 1995میلادی

عنوان: لیر شاه؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ مترجم: جواد پیمان؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر، 1339، در 200ص، چاپ دیگر 1347؛ در 296ص؛ چاپ دیگر انتشارات علمی فرهنگی، 1373؛ چاپ دیگر 1375؛ شابک 9644452518؛ چاپ ششم 1379؛ چاپ هفتم 1380؛ چاپ هشتم 1381؛ نهم سال1382؛ دهم 1387؛ شابک 9789644452512؛ یازدهم 1391؛ موضوع نمایشنامه های نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 17م

عنوان: نمایشنامه شاه لیر؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ مترجم: م.ا به آذین؛ تهران، ورجاوند، 1382، در 144ص، شابک 9647656408؛

عنوان: الملک لیر؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ مترجم: محمد مصطفی بدری؛ کویت، وزارة الاعلام، 1355، در 222ص، به زبان عربی؛ شابک9789642131631؛

عنوان: شاه لیر؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ بازنگری اندرو متیوز؛ مترجم مرجان رضائی؛ تهران، نشر مرکز، 1393، در 58ص، شابک9789642131631؛

عنوان: لیر شاه؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ مترجم: میلاد میناکار؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر پارسه، 1394، در 240ص، شابک 9786002531919؛

عنوان: لیر شاه؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ مترجم: بیتا حسینی؛ تهران، انتشارات اسحق، 1394، در 64ص، شابک 9786008175170؛

فهرست: پرده اول: صحنه اول (واقع در قصر شاه لیر)؛ صحنه دوم (واقع در تالاری در خانه گلوستر)؛ صحنه سوم (اتاقی در خانه دوک آلبانی)؛ صحنه چهارم (تالاری در قصر)؛ صحنه پنجم (حیاط روبروی قصر)؛

پرده دوم: صحنه اول (قلعه‌ی گلوستر)؛ صحنه دوم (روبروی قلعه‌ی گلوستر)؛ صحنه سوم (جنگل)؛ صحنه چهارم (روبروی قلعه‌ی گلوستر)؛

پرده سوم: صحنه اول (بیابان)؛ صحنه دوم (همان بیابان)؛ صحنه سوم (قلعه‌ی گلوستر)؛ صحنه چهارم (بیابان، روبروی یک کلبه)؛ صحنه پنجم (قلعه‌ی گلوستر)؛ صحنه ششم (اتاقی در نزدیکی قلعه‌ی گلوستر)؛ صحنه هفتم (قلعه‌ی گلوستر)؛

پرده چهارم: صحنه اول (بیابان)؛ صحنه دوم (جلوی قصر دوک آلبانی)؛ صحنه سوم (اردوگاه فرانسویها در نزدیکی دوور)؛ صحنه چهارم (چادر کوردیلیا در دوور)؛ صحنه پنجم (قلعه‌ی گلوستر)؛ صحنه ششم (جلگه‌ای در نزدیکی دوور)؛ صحنه هفتم (چادری در اردوگاه فرانسویها)؛

پرده پنجم: صحنه اول (اردوگاه انگلیسیها در نزدیکی دوور)؛ صحنه دوم (مکانی در بین دو اردوگاه فرانسویها و انگلیسیها)؛ صحنه سوم (اردوگاه انگلیسیها در نزدیکی دوور)؛

لیر شاه، پادشاه کهنسال «انگلستان»، قلمرو خویش را به دو دختر ناسپاس، و چاپلوس خود، میبخشند، دختر کهترشان را که از چرب زبانی و مداهنه پرهیز دارد، محروم میکنند، از آن پس، دو دختر چنان با پدر پیر خویش رفتار میکنند، که «لیر» دیوانه میشود؛ سر به بیابان میگذارد؛ این قسمت از نمایشنامه، پرتو درخشان نبوغ «شکسپیر» است؛ سرانجام «لیر» دیوانه، جسد بیجان دختر کهتر را، که به دست گماشتگان خواهرانش از پای درآمده، در آغوش میگیرد و از رنج زندگی رها میشود؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 12/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 25/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,260 reviews5,379 followers
December 17, 2022
أي منكن ساقرر انها تحبني اكثر؟؟
من اكثر قصص العالم احراجا و مكرا..عندما ينتصر التملق و التطبيل انتصارا ساحقا

من تحبين اكثر؟والدك..زوجك ..ابنك؟؟
هنا الفطرة و الطبيعة ستجيب..رغم انها تبدو ظالمة
فالاب الذي يعطي فقط..يحظى بالقسط الاقل من الحب
و الزوج الذي يأخذ و يعطي يحظى بالنصيب الأكبر
و الابن الذي يأخذ فقط يفوز بحب غير محدود و لا مشروط
سنة الحياة
التي قرر ملك بريطانيا"لير"ان يتحداها
بكل صلف و غرور بسؤاله الاغبى عبر عمره الطويل

ايكن "ساقرر"انها تحبني اكثر؟
السؤال معيوب و يغلب المظاهر على الحقيقة
فتبالغ :جونريل و ريجان في وصف حبهما لابيهما فيسعد بمبالغتهما..و هل ولد بعد الملك الذي لا ينساق وراء التملق؟

اما كورديليا الحكيمة الجميلة ؛أحب بناته إلى قلبه ..نجدها تكره التملق و تتمسك بالصراحة كالخراتيت العنيدة
لتؤكد انها تحبه..و لكنها مستقبلا ستحب زوجها و أبناءها أكثر منه

حسنا .. هناك حقائق من الافضل للجميع الاحتفاظ بها في القلوب و بالطبع : يحرمها والدها من نصيبها في المملكة و يمنح اختيها كل شيء و يعيش ضيفا عليهن
ليحذر شكسبير آباء العالم كله من الاستسهال و التنازل الذي يكشف معدن الجميع
. . و مع خروجه في العاصفة هربا من الجحود تبدا مأساته..
و من تطمس عاطفته صوت عقله: سيكونن جزاؤه اسطوريا
وليدفعن ثمن غباؤه و غفلته

و تبدأ سلسلة من الأحداث الفظة ..البدائية المناسبة للقرن ال17في مجملها ...لنفهم عبر المآسي ماهية كلمتين فقط
الإخلاص ..و الخيانة
Profile Image for Amit Mishra.
233 reviews668 followers
July 10, 2019
King Lear can be read in various ways - as a theological drama, as a philosophical one, as a supreme example of Shakespeare's intuitive egalitarianism or even as a melodrama lifted towards tragedy only by its superb poetry. It is the most titanic of Shakespeare's tragedy.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
March 29, 2020
“Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.”

There is a hope, of course, for many of us to become wiser as we become older. In most cases, this does work, but sometimes we exchange naivete for senility, with too few years of graceful wisdom in between.

 photo 1961a45e-9fab-40a8-a366-3e54b63b8412_zps2q2nutmi.png
King Lear with his daughters. The cast of the 2018 movie.

King Lear makes the decision to split his kingdom between his three daughters. A magnanimous decision if viewed one way, but a very foolish decision if one considers the normal course of human behavior when a vacuum of power occurs. Lear’s Fool states the situation very clearly.

”Lear: Dost thou call me a fool, boy?

Fool: All the other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with.”

When thy Fool is calling thy a fool, thy should probably ponder thy actions a while longer. There is a part of me that feels that Lear may have felt the gears of his mind begin to slip in the worn out grooves of their passage. He may have believed he was doing his kingdom a favor by stepping down in favor of the youth of his loins. I’m sure he imagines a more idyllic life, riding, hunting, joking, eating, and doing whatever else he chooses to do at any given time in the company of his stipulated 100 knights who are his entourage of chaos.

Of course, there is a rub from the very opening of the play. Cordelia, his youngest daughter and most precious, does not give him the reassuring answers he wishes to hear. In a fit of madness, he banishes her. The two older daughters, Goneril and Regan, are more astute in their proclamations of love and devotion, telling their father what they know he wants to hear.

Early on, despite the sisters’ obvious duplicity in the face of Cordelia’s honesty, I find myself sympathetic to them. It is obvious that they, too, have suffered under the increasingly more unpredictable madness of King Lear.

The theme of the play revolves around madness and blindness. The kissing cousins of afflictions. Lear may have suffered first from madness, but his blindness to Cordelia’s devotion sets off a cascade of horrific events that only can ever be set right if he finds his sanity. He is not alone. The Earl of Gloucester proves equally blind in the assessment of his two sons, Edgar and Edmund. Edgar is the dutiful son. Edmund, the bastard, is suffering from numerous resentments which are, unfortunately, being fed by his naked ambition.

Edmund: ”I do serve you in this business.
A credulous father, and a brother noble,
Whose nature is so far from doing harms
That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
My practices ride easy! I see the business.
Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:
All with me’s meet that I can fashion fit.”

If not for the trustful natures of his father and brother, Edmund would not have attempted to undermine and destroy them. It is their fault for being so gullible. *sigh*

Gloucester was never shy about how Edmund came to be his son. He proclaimed his pleasure in his making to anyone who cared to listen.

Gloucester: “But I have a son, Sir, by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account: though this knave came something saucily to the world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair; there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged.”

My sympathy for Goneril and Regan quickly evaporates as Edmund, in his deception and aspirations, creates a wedge between the sisters that destroys what I once found so likeable about them...their loyalty to one another.

For me, what makes this play so brilliant is the shifting sympathies I feel as the plot progresses. What I once believed is revealed to be untrue. Characters prove unreliable even to the point that several are going around disguising their identities. Those most true are those most reviled. This play is a tragedy, and as the dominos begin to fall, Lear’s madness seems to have infected all. Who is responsible for all of this? Well, we could say Lear, but really it is his wisdom eroded by madness that causes such dreadful devastation to the kingdom.

 photo King20Lear_zpswiyyja7y.jpg

I paired reading this play with watching the 2018 Anthony Hopkins’s King Lear, which has been set in a more modern society, much like Ian McKellen’s masterful version of Richard III (1995). This adaptation of Lear, available on Amazon Prime, has an all star cast, including Emma Thompson, Emily Watson, Jim Broadbent, Tobias Menzies, and Florence Pugh, whom I absolutely loved in Lady Macbeth, based on the Nikolai Leskov story. I’m sure that role allowed her the opportunity to work with the Hollywood greats who were cast for this movie.

Edgar: “The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much nor live so long.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Dolors.
527 reviews2,217 followers
August 13, 2017
My first encounter with Shakespeare has totally swept me off my feet. As much as I had heard of the indisputable grandeur of the most famous playwright of all times I never expected to be so immersed in the swirling undercurrents of the incongruities of human nature that are so vividly portrayed in this tragedy. Even though my inexpensive Wordsworth edition wasn’t generous with annotations or academic essays, the universality of Shakespeare’s art, wrought in versed polyptotons, playful aphorisms and grotesque imagery, surpasses all attempts to categorize his work. Always elusive and prone to countless interpretations, Shakespeare remains inscrutable and daunts the present reader with questions of yesteryear about the meaning of life.

A surrealistic bargain that includes the old King Lear exchanging land for the love declarations of his three daughters in the opening scene triggers a chain of events that combine a peculiar mix of humorous absurdity, demented remorse and virulent wrath that escalates to a tragic climax.
The Duke of Glo’ster is blind when his eyes more clearly see and, cheated by his bastard son, the Machiavellian Edmund, he accuses his legitimate offspring Edgar of conspiracy.
Two fathers in the autumn of their lives misjudge their siblings, act impulsively and end up paying dearly for their pride. One loses his sight, the other his sanity, but both preserve faithful servants that guide them through the wilderness of the desolate heath where the sky dissolves into tears under a raging storm.

Lush with religious references, Greek mythology and several doses of misogynistic diatribe, the setting and aim of the story persists in being ambiguous, although the critics seem to agree on Pre-Christian Britain there is doubt regarding its moral purpose. But whether Shakespeare confirmed or subverted the idea of a providential order is secondary to me. The power of this play relays in the ongoing paradoxes that coexist in all the characters as it does in human nature, for they all display an irrepressible tendency for extreme cruelty, envy and greed that is counterbalanced with a great capacity for forgiveness, repentance and love.
How can divine justice fit the randomness of an untamed nature that punishes the innocent without apparent purpose?

“As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods:
They kill us for their sport.”

Is the blind or deranged man the Fool or else the Sage that illuminates the audience with sporadic lucidity?

“O, let me kiss that hand!
Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.”

Whatever the case, Shakespeare’s response is unequivocal.
Love is what keeps us going. Without love, children would be orphans, lovers sterile and Kings, beggars.
Yet love doesn’t stamp out vileness, indifference or sorrow because human beings are but ”forked animals” trapped in a fabricated reality that try to swim against the currents of this vitriolic maelstrom called existence.
But oh!, the joy of flickering hope, of stars aligned, of virtue prevailing over darkness, because with Shakespeare, everything is possible.

“So we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies”

Edit, August 13th 2017: From Harold Bloom's essay: "Lear, beyond us in grandeur and in essential authority, is still a startlingly intimate figure, since he is an emblem of fatherhood itself. Outrageously hyperbolical, insanely eloquent, Lear nevertheless always demands more love than can be given and so he scarcely can speak without crossing the realms of the unsayable."
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
458 reviews3,242 followers
May 6, 2019
"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child"...Good King Lear, feared in his younger days, has two, in pagan Britain, the inhabitants worship the numerous gods, there, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, the ancient ruler, in his eighties, can no longer govern well, no stamina, his mind is deteriorating quickly, with no sons but three devoted daughters, he believes, decides to divide the kingdom, equally, between them, but first the widower monarch, needs to hear how much his daughters love him...Goneril, the oldest, married to the weak duke of Albany, is a vile, mean, jealous, without morals, woman, her sister Regan, just as bad, the wife of the cruel duke of Cornwall, they could be twins, emotionally, but hate each other with a passion, as only sisters can, the husbands are puppets in their endless conspiracies for absolute power. Goneril and Regan, shower the gullible king with untrue platitudes of endearment, lovely Cordelia, the youngest, unmarried but has many suitors, says she loves her father like a daughter should , but the puzzled, quite angry man , misconstruing these mild remarks, and he, Lear, banishes his child, no land either, for the former favorite, but not before giving Cordelia , to the sympathetic king of France, as his bride, he admires her nobility...without a dowry. The Earl of Kent protests, vehemently, (the sovereign's biggest supporter) and he too is told to leave Britain at once, or be executed, the poor, oblivious man, has given away all power and benefits to his unworthy children... no longer now,"Every inch a king ". Kent risks his life by staying in England, disguising himself in order to help the feeble friend, Lear, becoming his loyal servant, Caius, protecting the confused, mad king, from his evil, rival daughters, many insults ( he Lear, regrets his unwise gifts to them) . The very cold, scheming , ambitious bastard son, Edmund, ( the term fits more than one way) of the too trusting nobleman, the Earl of Gloucester, feels he deserves all the glory, wealth and titles, that his older brother, the virtuous, but naive Edgar, who is continually kind to the half-brother, will inherit, someday, nothing is beneath him, lies and deceit, get more elaborate, making love to Goneril and Regan, maneuvering forward to accomplish his desires and the contemptible goals, he wants...In real life there are no happy endings, people live, do good things or bad, and then die, the next generation repeats this eternal pattern, until the final rays of the Sun, shine for the last time, and the darkness swallows the world. This play by Shakespeare, is one of the finest ever written, it shows why the author was and is still the greatest writer to put down his ideas on paper.
Profile Image for Mohammed-Makram.
1,396 reviews3,112 followers
October 31, 2022

حكاية بسيطة جدا عن ملك عجوز يريد توريث ملكه لبناته الثلاث و يسأل كل منهن سؤالا ساذجا: من منكن تحبني أكثر؟

الأكثر نفاقا كانتا غونيريل وريجان فحاذتا رضا والدهما أما الصغيرة كورديليا فلم تستطع تملق والدها و غضب عليها و طردها من رحمته و لولا ملك فرنسا الذي تزوجها لكانت ملقاة في الشارع.

تدور الأيام و تنقلب الإبنتان على والدهما و تنقذه الإبنة الصغرى إلا أن الأمور تتبدل و ينتهي الأمر بمأساة تموت فيها البنات الثلاث و يبقى لير العجوز المخرف الذي لم يقدر الصدق و الإخلاص و نصر عليهما النفاق و الكذب فخسر كل شيء

استمتعت بالمسرحية الرائعة التي مثلها يحي الفخراني و أعاد بها الجمهور البسيط لمسرح هادف و لا يخلو أيضا من الدعابة
Profile Image for هدى يحيى.
Author 8 books16k followers
March 2, 2021

لا أظن ان هناك من استطاع تصوير الانحدار نحو الجنون كما فعل ‏شكسبير
فمن هذيان أوفيليا في هاملت حيث تنتهي في أعماق النهر
حتى صرخات لير الراعدة في البرية

تتبدى براعته مع كل بيت شعري
وكل مشهد خالد للأبد في ذاكرة الأدب


الملك لير هي المسرحية الأكثر درامية لشكسبير في رأيي
فهي مبكية من البداية ومفجعة في نهاياتها

ونتساءل ما الذي فعله لير ليستحق هذا العذاب وذلك المصير؟
ما الذي فعلته كورديليا لتستحق نفس المصير‏

‏ لير فرط في حقوقه
انخدع بزيف المظاهر وصدق كلمات مجوفة عوضا أن يرى الصدق في ‏أفعال من حوله
استخفته قوته وهيمنته فراح يقسم ويمنح ويوزع

ومن ثم تنازل عن حقه في أن يكون انسان
وأن يكون عادل
وأن يكون قوي القوة الحقة

لير مثال لكل شخص تنازل ‏
لكل شخص يترك نفسه يخدع
لكل شخص هرب من المواجهة
رمز لنا جميعا

أما كورديليا المسكينة فكان لابد وأن تموت
لأن هذه الأرض بكل فسادها لا تسع روحا بريئة كروحها
كما لم تسع من قبل لا ديدمونة ولا أوفيليا

الأرواح الأكثر طهرا مكانها السماء


الغريب أن معظم الاقتباسات التي أحبها لشكسبير
موجودة في هذه المسرحية برغم أنها تأتي في المركز الخامس في ‏مفضلاتي

ولكن الشعر الذي نثره شكسبير هنا عطر وزهرا وقلوبا دامية
يجبرني على العودة مرارا لصفحات لير

بالطبع مشهدي المفضل هو لير الصارخ في البرية

لا يمكن لأحد في أي عصر أن يكتب مشهد يقارب هذا الجمال



ملحوظة أخيرة
كل من قرأ شكسبير مترجما (لأي لغة) لم يقرأ شكسبير
لم يتعرف حتى على قشور ما كتبه

شكسبير يقرأ بالإنجليزية بنصه الأصلي
لا بالنصوص المبسطة أو الشارحة

شكسبير يقرأ هكذا

And worse I may be yet: the worst is not
So long as we can say 'This is the worst.
Love's not love
When it is mingled with regards that stand
Aloof from th' entire point.
I have no way and therefore want no eyes
I stumbled when I saw. Full oft 'tis seen
our means secure us, and our mere defects
prove our commodities.
We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;
And take upon's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow by the moon.
A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a
base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,
hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a
lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,
glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue;
one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a
bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but
the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar,
and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I
will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest
the least syllable of thy addition.
Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
And show the heavens more just.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.7k followers
April 9, 2009
I was lucky enough to be living in Stockholm when Ingmar Bergman staged Lear at the Swedish National Theatre in the late 80s, and I saw it twice. Bergman's take on the play was very interesting and unusual; he interpreted it as fundamentally optimistic.

Obviously, you're wondering why, and in the hands of a lesser director it would probably just have been a piece of unnecessary perversity. Bergman's reasoning was, in fact, not bizarre. He saw the key scene of the play as the reconciliation between Lear and Cordelia; this was the one shown on the poster, which was plastered all over town. Everywhere you looked, you could see Lear and his daughter kneeling, holding hands, and looking into each other's eyes, with relief and joy streaming from their faces. What Bergman was saying was that everyone, like Lear, has done horrible things to the people who love them most. Usually they never have a chance to say sorry, or receive forgiveness from the people they have wronged. Lear got that chance, just before he and Cordelia died, so we should be happy for him.

Bergman directed the play when he was about 70. If you know anything about his life, you will readily understand why he might have interpreted it this way. It was an extremely moving production.
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
May 26, 2017
In times of change, stress or general uneasiness, I find myself repeatedly quoting Shakespeare.

There is something soothing in the knowledge that he wrote all those unforgettable lines over 400 years ago and they still make so much sense - sometimes more sense than our most recent literary production. I know that I am in some kind of identity crisis when King Lear comes to my mind again, and I open the highly impractical "Collected Works of Shakespeare" and try to find Lear without completely breaking the suffering spine.

“Who is it that can tell me who I am?”

That was the quote I had in my head, and I found it quickly enough following my post-it signs, but of course, Shakespeare being the magician that he is, he lures me into his world, and I find myself rereading major parts of the whole play. It does not necessarily make me forget my everyday worries, for Shakespeare is no escapism writer. Rather, I feel that my concerns and thoughts are given a wider, noble context, as they can be related to that master of words, plots, characters, everything human. Shakespeare does not give me answers, but he gives my questions validity.

"I am a man more sinned against than sinning" - who doesn't want to yell out those famous words of King Lear's every once in a while? And they might be true. But does that really excuse the sinning? I love the ambiguous world of Shakespeare, and King Lear has it all. Action, drama, feelings in the wrong and right places, politics, and common sense in unexpected situations. The long diatribe on man's blaming the stars for his viciousness is one of my favourites.
King Lear is as good as Shakespeare can be!

“This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,
when we are sick in fortune,--often the surfeit
of our own behavior,--we make guilty of our
disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as
if we were villains by necessity; fools by
heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and
treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards,
liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of
planetary influence; and all that we are evil in,
by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion
of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish
disposition to the charge of a star.”
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,547 followers
April 6, 2022
If I were to assign a Shakespearean tragedy to one of each of the thresh metal Big Four, I would do so thus:

- Anthrax would be Hamlet due to the many changes in personnel and the mixture of genres that they have done over time, sort of like how Hamlet has moments of indecision as to which direction to take.
- Megadeth would definitely be Othello with Dave Mustaine forever jealous of the enormous success of Metallica and yet still pursuing his own path. Plus Othello is the most musical of the four tragedies and arguably, Dave has the most musical (however annoying to me) voice of the group.
- Slayer would ressemble Macbeth in the dark, foreboding atmosphere in their music, the anger and rage at the universe best expressed on their masterpiece, God Hates Us All.
- King Lear would be be represented by Metallica in my opinion. James Hetfield is nearly as massive a personality as old Lear and certainly expresses a wide range of emotion and occasionally (see St Anger so surprising vulnerability). The raging storms in Lear reminded me of the songs on Ride the Lightning or And Justice For All in their intensity and ceaseless energy.

So, anyway, back to Lear...

I think, with The Tempest and Hamlet and maybe Macbeth, this is my favourite Shakespeare play. Grandiose, tragic with characters bigger than life, it demonstrates the Bard's absolute mastery of blank verse and extraordinary dialog. I am nearly breathless each time I finish Lear. I have, unfortunately, never seen it on stage but that is one on my bucket list!

There is so much depth here and so much at stake. The dividing of England by Lear to open the play was an immediate reminder to Jacobean audiences (those living under Elizabeth’s successor and therefore Shakespeare’s second royal sponsor, James I) recent unification of Scotland England and of the civil wars. The characters of Regan and Goneril and Edmund are all heinous and despicable, up there with Iago and the Joker (although Edmund sort of comes around at the very end). The faithfulness of Kent to Lear, the Oedipal fate of Gloucester, and the tragedy of Cordelia are so vivd.

But what takes this play to the rarefied atmosphere of the world’s greatest literature is the storm in Act III. As AC Bradley wrote in Shakespearean Tragedy in 1904, the storm and Lear become one and it is a terrifying and edifying thing to read that defies the imagination. That and the scenes between Lear and Cordelia. Wow.

Fino's Reviews of Shakespeare and Shakespearean Criticism
The Comedy of Errors (1592-1593
The Taming of the Shrew (1593-1594)
The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1594-1595)
Love's Labour's Lost (1594-1595)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595-1596)
The Merchant of Venice (1596-1597)
Much Ado About Nothing (1598-1599)
As You Like It (1599-1600)
Twelfth Night (1599-1600)
The Merry Wives of Windsor (1600-1601)
All's Well That Ends Well (1602-1603)
Measure for Measure (1604-1605)
Cymbeline (1609-1610)
A Winter's Tale (1610-1611)
The Tempest (1611-1612)
Two Noble Kinsmen (1612-1613)

Henry VI Part I (1589-1590)
Henry VI Part II (1590-1591)
Henry VI Part III (1590-1591)
Richard III (1593-1594)
Richard II (1595-1596)
King John (1596-1597)
Edward III (1596-1597)
Henry IV Part I (1597-1598)
Henry IV Part II (1597-1598)
Henry V (1598-1599)
Henry VIII (1612-1612)

Titus Andronicus (1592-1593)
Romeo and Juliet (1594-1595)
Julius Caesar (1599-1600)
Hamlet (1600-1601)
Troilus and Cressida (1601-1602)
Othello (1604-1605)
King Lear (1605-1606)
Macbeth (1605-1606)
Anthony and Cleopatra (1606-1607)
Coriolanus (1607-1608)
Timon of Athens (1607-1608)
Pericles (1608-1609)

Shakespearean Criticism
The Wheel of Fire by Wilson Knight
A Natural Perspective by Northrop Frye
Shakespeare After All by Marjorie Garber
Shakespeare's Roman Plays and Their Background by M W MacCallum
Shakespearean Criticism 1919-1935 compiled by Anne Ridler
Shakespearean Tragedy by A.C. Bradley
Shakespeare's Sexual Comedy by Hugh M. Richmond
Shakespeare: The Comedies by R.P. Draper
Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics by Stephen Greenblatt
1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro

Collections of Shakespeare
Venus and Adonis, the Rape of Lucrece and Other Poems
Shakespeare's Sonnets and a Lover's Complaint
The Complete Oxford Shakespeare
Profile Image for leynes.
1,103 reviews2,953 followers
August 22, 2019
King Lear, a modern reimagination by yours truly.

LEAR: Gather 'round daughters, ya daddy is old af and wants to retire. Whoever kisses my sweet ass the most will get the largest part of my kingdom.
GONERIL: Daddy, I love you so so so so so so much.
REGAN: Daddy, I love you even moooooooooooore.
LEAR: (squeals happily) Ah, there's nothing like family. Cordelia, how about you?
CORDELIA: (shifts awkwardly) I have nothing, my lord.
LEAR: Nothing?
LEAR: BITCH, THE DOOR! (the door being France)
KENT: For real? This decision will bite you in the ass one day.
LEAR: Kent, you know what, while we're at it, you can fuck off too.


EDMUND: Honey, you should see me in a crown. I might not be as honorable of a bastard as Jon Snow but I will sit on that goddamn throne. (screams) DAAAAAD?
GLOUCESTER: I told you not to call me that in public, you little shit.
EDMUND: Edgar, your honorable, loyal and rightful heir, is plotting to kill you. Yeah, I'm totally not making that up to steal his place.
GLOUCESTR: Fair enough. (screams) EDGAAAAR?
EDGAR: Yes, O my beloved father?
EDGAR: (shrugs) Well, then, guess I'm going to live naked in the woods now. Walden has nothing on me.


LEAR: (slowly descending into madness upon realizing that Regan and Goneril are fake hoes who want to get rid of his sorry ass) Zeus, you hear me? I need some thunder and lightning to fit my mood.
(The biggest storm ever hits. Shakespeare in the back taking notes for The Tempest.)
LEAR: (dancing in the rain) CASH ME OUTSIDE HOWBOW DAH?

GLOUCESTER: Umm... guys, don't you wanna do something? Your father's 'bout to catch a cold.
GONERIL: You're 'bout to catch those hands. (stabs his eyes out)
REGAN: (tosses Gloucester's blind ass to the streets) Well done, sis.
GONERIL: And they say women are weak.
REGAN: (looks around savagely) Now who's gonna help us kill our father next?
EDMUND: I'm in.
REGAN: (leers at Edmund) That's one fine ass.
GONERIL: (giving Regan a side-eye) This D is mine. I will poison her ass.
ALBANY: (looking at Goneril, is shooketh) My wife's a ho.


CORDELIA: (marching on Britain with her French army) Yee-haa!
EDGAR: (returning from the woods after having saved his father from committing suicide) Yee-haaa!
KENT: (donning costume) Bitches, I'm back!
LEAR: (embracing Cordelia) Everything is going to be alright now.
ALBANY: (stepping onto the scene)
REGAN: (dies from poisoning; off-stage of course because no one cares about women)
GONERIL: (kills herself; off-stage, that goes without saying)
CORDELIA: (gets fucking hanged; OFF-STAGE)
EDMUND: (gets killed off-stage)
LEAR: FML. (dies)
EDGAR: Guess, I'll be King now.
ALBANY: The Quarto says I will be King.
EDGAR: Fuck the Quarto, the Folio is on my side.
ME: (as the curtains close)
Profile Image for Fernando.
680 reviews1,094 followers
May 19, 2020
"Para llegar al fin, todos los medios son buenos."

El teatro, el drama, es un género que no acostumbro a leer muy a menudo, pero cada vez que me acerco a este tipo de clásicos, lo hago a partir de William Shakespeare. Sólo tengo cuatro libros del genial bardo, a saber y en orden de predilección: Macbeth, Hamlet, La Tempestad y este, que me ha agradado en buena manera. Los dos primeros que enumero siguen siendo mis predilectos, especialmente Macbeth, por ser la obra más oscura y malvada de Shakespeare.
Respecto de El Rey Lear, y como en la mayoría de las tragedias shakesperianas, es ya clásico en sus obras encontrarnos con un reguero de muertos, batallas, amores y odios y sobre todo un elemento que Shakespeare solía manejar a la perfección: el de las traiciones. Y es en base a estas traiciones (las cuales, por otro lado, generan que ciertos personajes se mantengan fieles y leales al Rey, como es el caso de Kent y Gloucester), lo que mantienen al lector atento al desarrollo del drama.
Puedo percibir ciertos pasajes que me hicieron recordar a Edipo Rey, sobre todo en los personajes del viejo Gloucester y de Cordelia. En líneas generales ha logrado que me interesara en saber cómo terminaba esta tragedia aunque repito: no hay obra de Shakespeare que no me apasione tanto como la maravillosa Macbeth.
Cinco estrellas porque la obra de uno de los cinco escritores más grandes de la historia como lo es Shakespeare no merece menor calificación.
Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,579 followers
May 16, 2020
Book Review
3 of 5 stars to King Lear, a tragic play by William Shakespeare, published in 1603. I enjoyed the play and then watched a few film versions. My review will cover both the book and the film I saw -- with a bit of sarcasm and humor (just to be different than all the other ones! LOL)

Lear is an absolutely ridiculous character who belongs in the looney bin in my opinion. He has lost all control over his life, his family, and his kingdom. He is foolish, blind, and stubborn. When reading the play, I thought Lear was some old king who couldn’t take care of anything. He was just plain ineffective. After watching a few film versions, I whole heartedly agree. Lear is still a vain, crotchety old man. However, I did see some humor in him that I didn’t notice in the first reading of the play. He was definitely not likable on a first read; however, when I started to watch the video clips, I found myself saying that I could tolerate him. All of a sudden, I classified him as likable human. Even when you just want to kill him, he is still kind of funny and tolerable.

Lear was somewhat like a grandfather in my opinion. Not one of those everyday grandfathers though. He reminded me of the much older, funny grandfather who laughs at everything, but doesn’t realize what he’s doing. In fact, I actually thought of him as a Santa Claus figure. It sounds weird, but the looks automatically qualify him to be Santa Claus. His attitude could be a problem though. He might have been a really nice guy when he was younger and not so stubborn. As for Lear’s daughters... I see Lear’s daughters as all being from 25 to 40 - no more than that, though. Gonerill though did make Lear’s anger appear believable to me. I see how much she had to say and then I realize how he can be so upset with Cordelia’s response. Cordelia seems a little too weak to be his daughter. I picture her as being stronger and able to handle herself against him. It was hard to picture three daughters surrounding their old, aging father Lear. Having each daughter one by one go to their father to say how they loved him was powerful. I watched the characters grow and then leap off the page.

The play is a good one to read, to see the life of parents and children, royalty and order of succession. It's a great commentary on how we behave and treat our elders, especially both as parents and as humans. And on the flip side, you also see what happens when you make rash decisions, not realizing the impact down the line... and how much you want to fix them, but sometimes you cannot.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,868 reviews16.5k followers
April 1, 2016
This is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.

In college honors English at U. Tennessee Knoxville, I stumbled into a dissertation about a comparison of epic and tragic, using as templates Lear and Milton's Paradise Lost. In all of English class papers, there may never have been a more seasoned example of pure bull**** and left field logic. I think I got a B-, just because my instructor may have been worried about whether or not my meds had kicked in.

Still, in composing the literary testimony of my ignorance, I had to read Lear and have been hooked ever since, reading several times and seeing it performed whenever possible, most notably Ian McKellan's magnificent rendering. Edmund remains for me an archetypal villain who gives Darth Vader and Satan a run for their money and any list of greatest villains is, to me, incomplete without Gloucester's bastard.

Profile Image for Brina.
903 reviews4 followers
October 8, 2017
As one who is always looking for books by authors from around the globe and seeking out hidden gems, books that have been defined as classics, especially by western authors, are usually the ones that get short changed. With three days offline and ample time to read, I thought it was high time that I read a Shakespearean play, having not read one since last year. In school, students are generally asked to read one Shakespeare a year, yet by scheduling quirks, I ended up reading The Merchant of Venice twice and Macbeth and King Lear not at all. I finally got around to reading Macbeth last year, only because a contemporary book piqued my interest in it. I have been meaning to read Pulitzer winning A Thousand Acres for some time now and used this similar impetus to finally read King Lear.

Tomes have been written on Shakespeare, his life, theater, inspiration for his plays, and the plays themselves. What I did find interesting about the background information on Lear is that it had been written toward the end of the Bard's life and focused on an aging hero who was met with age discrimination both from his family and outsiders. I have read a number of books this year about how age is only a number and that just because one is old it does not mean that the person is feeble minded or slowing down. Unfortunately, in the case of Lear, his daughters view him as near death, and are eager to swoop down and claim their inheritance from him. Perhaps they had enjoyed a better relationship with their long deceased mother or perhaps they were just greedy, but Lear's children's treatment of him shows to me nothing short of viewing the elderly as infantile and near death. As a result, many critics have said that Shakespeare's writing about the aging process has made Lear his most tragic tragedy. While not as thrilling to me as some of the other plays I have read, I am apt to agree with the more studied critics.

Perhaps I did not find myself enjoying this play as much as other Shakespearean plays that I have read because I did not find one character to sympathize with at all. The three daughters Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia were all out for personal gain, and two of the three plotted on Lear's life. Meanwhile, Cordelia, the most beloved by Lear, denounced him, only to repent toward the play's end when it appeared that Lear was at a near dementia like state and Cordelia herself might have been beyond atonement regardless of her intentions. Goneril and Regan engaged in a love triangle with Edmund the Duke of Gloucester, and I found Goneril's actions especially to be hideous, as she still was married at the time to a devoted husband. What I found the most interesting in these characters' portrayals is that in other plays I have found that Shakespeare to have written strong female characters from Portia to the downright domineering Lady Macbeth. At least Portia was likeable to an extent. The sisters here chose poor behavior that left me disgusted with their actions.

What I did find accessible in King Lear was Shakespeare's language that has endured for five centuries. Having read as much as I do, I did not find myself looking at the Folger produced side by side dictionary as much as I had in the past. This resource is wonderful for a high school student reading the play for the first time, and I laud the Folger library for producing stellar editions of all of the Bard's works. Lear's and Edmund's soliloquies were moving and the character of Lear's Fool provided comic relief for this tragic writing. In addition to injecting laughs into this otherwise upsetting premise of a setting, the Fool clearly appeared out of his element in the events in this play, making him the only character I almost sympathized with. His aloofness contrasted with Lear's dementia and made for the blind leading the blind and shows how both comic relief and the depiction of the elderly has changed since Shakespeare's time.

King Lear is indeed a tragedy for the ages. While I am pleasantly surprised that I have found Shakespeare's language more accessible as time goes by, I was not enamored with any of the characters in this play. Perhaps it was the depiction of women or perhaps the depiction of the elderly, but King Lear did not move me as much as other Shakespearean works have. Because of these issues in Shakespeare's work; however, King Lear has endured for as long as his other plays have and, because of the wealth of criticism available, is sure to generate lively discussions in other groups. As my quest to uncover hidden gems is ever present, it may be awhile before I read another of Shakespeare's works. In the meanwhile, I can appreciate the Bard for his mastery of the English language.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
653 reviews7,023 followers
February 8, 2014

A Fairy Tale I Give Thee, A ‘True Chronicle History’

[Dramatis Personæ:

The Bard, as Himself

World, as Itself

You, as Fool, in the Bard’s service

Kings, Daughters, Sons, Knights, Fools, Gentlemen, Soldiers, Attendants, Messengers, Servants.]

Act 1.1

Sennet. Enter [The Bard, You]


Hark, A Fairy Tale I Give Thee, Fit for Today’s Times!

I have in my time, written many plays - tragedies, comedies, all - but reader beware: this might be my darkest vision yet.

I will exalt you; and in death’s throngs.

Have you heard of Cinderella, of King Leir, of Arcadia’s Kings, and all such happy and sad tales of old? Have you laughed with relief at their ends?

Well, let me show the real end of tales.

Have you hated the Villains and prayed for the Heroes? Let me show you how, each to himself and to the other, they only plough despair on themselves! Let me show you of good and evil and the intermingled confusion of their origins. Let me show you the face of the Gods, mocking and crying, the mad Gods that rule us.

Note now my words well, and note the tales I tell. You have heard them before, so note most where I differ!

Note how it is Leir and his daughters, who are mixed with the Paphlagonian King of Sidney’s Arcadia. Pay your most special heed to those special introductions of mine: to the Storm and to the Madness; to the Fool and to poor Tom; to the faithful and noble servant and to the slimy one; and most of all to the Protean one.

See all this in me, be not blind!

See also what I leave out, see the plot tightened and stripped off base plottings and machinations, and the happy endings! See my sources condensed and expanded and kneaded into a potent brew for your vision’s improvement.

But most important of all, see the mixing of the tales: all themes from all stories pour into my cup, I raise them from mere tales to be an epic, to cosmic proportions. Watch on, as Leir’s small world becomes my Lear’s world - and then becomes the world entire. Is it clear to you that my Lear’s fate may indeed be the fate of any man, of Yours? Never mind, it is a mystery you can fathom not!

[Aside] Alack, the future shall find this impossible to bear, and just as I mutilate the happy myths, my sad tragedy too shall be undone so, by Nates and nit-wits! Actors and audiences will then prefer this mutant version of my play. Oh, how then its happy ending will comfort them, for a century and a half! Not for much longer - You will be back to me. Comforting endings, all fictions, are only there to mock, as ever.

Finally see the ending I have stored specially for you, see how I have left no consolations for you. See how I raise your hopes at every turn and shatter them like boys playing with insects. See through these windows I make for you, before you erect your mirrors all over again.

You must see that beyond the apparent ‘worst’ that I let you imagine, there is a worse suffering, and when it comes in with a rush, it will be a mere image of that horror, not the thing itself. Ha! and yet, it will be more appalling than anything you could expect, than the very worst nightmares this stage can conjure!

See! See if for a moment, before you leave me and slip back into cozy habits again, into your own blindness of self-absorption.

Alack, it is for me to shatter your expectations, for only in the cracking of the mirror can you see through that window-that-was and into the truth beyond. Let me be your guest and enter your very homes and crack all the mirrors fixed where windows ought be, and let in the world, full wild and gorgeous!

A difficult play to stage my hands said to me! Indeed, I meant it to be thus and naught else - ‘only the imagination can encompass it’ (which might serve quite well in a day when reading supplants all staging in reach) but stage it I shall, watch it you shall, break the mirrors I shall, and rush in the World shall.

Flourish. Exeunt [The Bard, and Attendants]

Enter [World] [You remain on stage]

[ Inspired by: Kermode ]
Profile Image for Daniel Chaikin.
594 reviews56 followers
December 1, 2019

My first time reading Lear, and like all the other plays I've read this year I just assumed I would steam through it, getting the gist and some sense of the pace, and language and humor...you know, just enjoying it. Lear is not friendly this approach. It's long, worded for effect and meter, which means the sentences are complex and difficult follow; and it's really busy. Lots of stuff happens constantly. Each act felt like it had enough plot to be a whole play, and at least one scene felt that way (Act 4, scene 6). All I knew of the play before pretty much happens in Act I.

Lear is the play where the old king gives his kingdom away to his daughters while he's still alive, while fully intending to still live out his life as a king. He demands words of affection before dividing the land among his three daughters, but one daughter, Cordellia, finds words inadequate. That's a no go, and Lear makes the mistake of banishing her and giving her inheritance to his other two more calculating daughters. And there is the Glouchester's parallel story where illegitimate son Edwin tries to hoodwink legitimate son Edgar out of his inheritance...and the clever boy has other grand schemes too. Alas, things don't go as anyone intends, and resulting in a lot of anger, wars, killings, eyes getting gouged out and smashed on the stage, loyal servants and subjects of various levels playing various key roles, a moment at the maybe only metaphorical edge of the White Cliffs of Dover, and a very dark and not funny but actually really funny fool. Life lessons are learned, the arrogant are bitterly enlightened and humbled, but only a few are left standing.

It's all exhausting, but also really fascinating and there are many levels, some of them deeply psychological. My edition included a bibliography with an actual summary of all the key points in each work cited(!!). That was pretty cool and gave me insights like this, from Susan Snyder's “King Lear and the Psychology of Dying.” (Shakespeare Quarterly 33 (1982): 449–60).
"Structuring her analysis of the play around the tenets of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s influential On Death and Dying (1969), which outlined five stages in the dying process—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—Snyder locates naturalistic and symbolic correspondences to these stages in Lear’s and Gloucester’s loss of power (“ which is . . . what dying is about”)"
Shakespeare doesn't need a recommendation, at least this one certainly doesn't. I think we all know of it. But this one does need some further re-reading and exploration.


58. King Lear (Folger Shakespeare Library) by William Shakespeare
editors: Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine (also has an essay by Susan Snyder)
originally performed: 1605 or 1606 (this edition is 2015)
format: 349 page Kindle ebook
acquired: October 26
read: Oct 26 – Nov 21
time reading: 14 hr 56 min, 2.6 min/page
rating: 5
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
611 reviews87.5k followers
August 25, 2017
Honestly didn't enjoy this as much as I had expected to. I think my expectations were too high. But, it was still an enjoyable play!
Profile Image for Ana Cristina Lee.
652 reviews246 followers
March 2, 2022
Empecé a leer este clásico un poco por casualidad, ya que Shakespeare siempre me da algo de pereza. La razón fue la lectura de Heredarás la tierra de Jane Smiley, en la que la autora pretende hacer una revisión feminista de King Lear, tal como explica en esta entrevista: https://elpais.com/diario/1996/07/15/...

Es una tendencia entre los escritores actuales, volver la vista a la obra de Shakespeare, ya que como dice la autora: ‘Shakespeare es el principio de la era moderna, él la define. Y ahora que termina muchos lo buscan para ser conscientes de quiénes son y tratar de imaginar el porvenir.’

Pues empecé a leer King Lear como una especie de deber cultural, pero a las pocas páginas, la manera en que Gloster habla de su hijo bastardo Edmund, me despertó de golpe:

Aunque este bribón vino al mundo inoportuna y lascivamente antes de que fuera llamado, hay que decir que fue su madre gentil, hice mucho ejercicio al engendrarlo y el hijo de puta merece ser reconocido.

Pero, William, tío!! A las tres páginas ya me tenía enganchada, los personajes saltaban fuera del Kindle y me agarraban por el cuello, violencia, sexo, tragedia… en fin, Shakespeare en estado puro.

El argumento es bien conocido: un rey decide repartir su reino entre sus tres hijas, para que ellas con sus maridos carguen con las responsabilidades de gobierno y le proporcionen una vida cómoda en su vejez. Goneril y Regan, las dos mayores, le halagan hipócritamente hasta que consiguen el poder y después le vuelven la espalda. En cambio, la hija pequeña, Cordelia, es el símbolo del amor filial puro, que se conoce por los actos y no por las palabras.

Pues junto con esto, hay destierros, reconciliaciones, disfraces, bufones, canciones, amores ilícitos, mutilaciones crueles, guerra… Tengo que decir que en algunas partes me he perdido un poco con tantas idas y venidas, es teatro y por tanto mejor visto que leído. Pero ha sido una experiencia impresionante, junto con La tempestad, que leí no hace mucho – también a raíz de otra lectura contemporánea. Y me propongo por enésima vez ir leyendo todas las obras – o al menos las principales – de Shakespeare, ya que es la única manera de entender la literatura posterior.

Ah! Y mejor en una edición bilingüe para disfrutar plenamente de fragmentos como:

Sunshine and rain at once, her smiles and tears were like a better way.
Como lluvia con sol, así eran sus sonrisas y lágrimas, aún más hermosas.
Profile Image for David.
865 reviews1,305 followers
April 5, 2009
This is where Shakespeare takes off the gloves. He brings us right to the edge of the abyss, then kicks us over that edge. King Lear is the most devastating by far of the Shakespeare tragedies -- this is a play which leaves the reader shattered as the curtain falls.

The play has a kind of primal power, which I find hard to explain. The plot is fairly typically Shakespeare, perhaps a little more complicated than usual, mixing elements taken from legend and from the historical record. At the outset, Lear is a narcissistic, bullying despot. His two older daughters, Regan and Goneril, are a couple of bad seed cougars, both of whom lust after Edmund, an equally amoral hyena. Their goody-two-shoes sister Cordelia behaves with such one-note pointless stubbornness, it almost seems like she's not playing with a full deck. Over in the Gloucester household, Edmund (the bastard hyena) is plotting against both his brother Edgar and his father. Lear’s court is filled with lickspittle sycophants. Only two people have the guts to speak truth to power, and one of them wears the costume of a Fool. There's a nasty storm brewing on the heath.

Fasten your seatbelts - it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Characters in “King Lear” pay dearly for their weaknesses. Gloucester is blinded in order that he might see, but is denied any lasting happiness; after reconciling with Edgar, he dies. Lear will be driven insane before he finally learns to empathize with the poor and the meek. We watch him return from the brink of madness only to discover that’s not enough. Before the curtain falls, Shakespeare gives us what is arguably the most brutal scene in his entire work.

Enter Lear with Cordelia (dead) in his arms –

Howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stone!
Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so
That heavens vault should crack. She’s gone forever.

Even if, like me, you find Cordelia a saccharine, two-dimensional character*, this scene is shattering. Two pages later, after learning that his fool has hanged himself, Lear dies, broken-hearted. Edgar, Kent and Albany – literally the only characters still standing – are left to bury the dead and move on, as best they can.

Why do I find this the most affecting of Shakespeare’s plays? (I’ve seen seven different stage productions**, and two on TV, and it only gets more powerful upon repeated exposure.) I can’t really pin it down – it’s a combination of various elements. The characters are idiosyncratic, fully realised, and their behavior is highly relatable, so the play is convincing at the level of the individual protagonists. But the fable-like nature of the opening scene also confers a kind of universal quality to its message, and the themes explored within the play – abuse of power, relationships within families, responsibilities of parents and children, the breakdown of the natural order and its consequences, the human capacity for enormous cruelty – are no less relevant today than in Shakespeare’s time. The skillfully constructed parallel plotting of the Lear and Gloucester arcs adds to the power of the story, the breakdown in natural human behavior is further accentuated by the raw fury of the elements during the storm scenes, where Nature echoes Lear’s fury.

Ultimately, there’s no getting away from the uncompromising bleakness of the play’s message. In Gloucester’s words – “as flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport”. The nihilism of “King Lear” has always disturbed audiences, and it was common during the 18th and 19th centuries to stage an altered version, in which Cordelia was allowed to live, implying a more upbeat view of human nature. But, given what the events of the last century demonstrate about mankind’s vicious capacity for self-destruction, one has to think that Shakespeare got it right first time. As usual.

*: the character that Cordelia most reminds me of is the slave-girl, Liu, in Puccini’s “Turandot”. Neither is realised in any great depth, but each serves an important function in the way that their death effects a crucial change in one of the other protagonists.

**: including one particularly memorable performance in Mönchen-Gladbach, Germany, where Regan and Goneril were decked out like biker chicks and roared on stage riding what appeared to be Harleys.

Profile Image for Alan.
420 reviews181 followers
July 28, 2021
The grand works of Shakespeare are, in part, natural think pieces. Watching Shakespeare or reading him will not take long. The story is entertaining enough to leave it at that, if you should so choose (although I must admit: as the years go by since I have read and watched Romeo and Juliet, I cannot help but look back on it as unbearably boring). This person has designs, this person dies, this person ends up with this person, this title, this land, etc. Comedy, tragedy, romance, history, all of it is there. But let your entertainment impulse down for just a second and you will start to see revelations and questions come up out of nowhere. King Lear is no different, of course.

I have had a good amount of experience with Shakespeare’s 2-3 most “known” plays, as far as high school education is concerned. Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet. The problem with these teachings, however, have always been a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the teacher. The first and the third were ruined by soporific, monotonous rants by underpaid teachers who would have rather taken part in quite literally anything else. The Scottish play was lucky, as it was taught to me by one of the most formative teachers in my academic career. God bless his love for the subject, that which truly makes all the difference. My overall point is this: there is often a lack of logic behind why students need to read and discuss these plays. Why is this crucial? What does it teach me? I remember discussing the importance of Shakespeare with a poor, sad, lost soul who was looking to get her MA in drama/theatre. She refused to read any Shakespeare out of hand. She had not read or watched a single one. Why? Because he was a “Dead White Man” TM, and she just knew that he would not have much to contribute to her life today. I don’t blame her or her logic for reaching this conclusion and refusing to acknowledge the single most important figure in her field, perhaps even across all literature. I blame the false and empty reverence that follows the introduction of these plays by teachers who themselves had a selection of 5-10 “Shakespeares” drilled into them senselessly. The cycle continues. The Wheel of Fortune continues to turn.

I am at a new beginning of my studies of Shakespeare. This time, the introductions are done in an autodidactic manner. Enthusiasm, as I mention, is key. As a beginner, if it is enthusiasm I seek, I don’t have to look much further than Harold Bloom. I have been reading his essays on Shakespeare on and off for quite some time now, and while he often waves away perfectly valid challenges to the works of Shakespeare with non arguments and non sequiturs, he does give me crucial background and interesting comparisons that I may otherwise never have had the chance to entertain. His writings on King Lear helped me sound out the revelations and questions that I mentioned, and so credit has to be given. Here are some of my thoughts and if spoilers matter to you for Shakespeare, here is a warning :

- I don’t know why it doesn’t sit well with me that Edgar saw his father, blind, struggling, searching, and decided that it was best to continue the pantomime of Tom O’Bedlam. I don’t have an adequate answer for why Edgar’s obvious and overwhelming love for the father did not pour out in a stream of sympathies for Gloucester. Instead, he later revealed his identity to Gloucester off-stage (post many conversations and a suicide-attempt by his father), and this ended up being all for naught. I suppose naught is a recurring theme in the play. Why the self-restraint?

- We seem to have either an excess of love or excess of hate. The excess of love can be superficial, in the cases of Goneril and Regan, or pure and unyielding in the face of wrath, like that of Cordelia. Lear himself has an excessive need for love, a bottomless pit that cannot be filled. Hate is also strong, concentrated in the strange character of Edmund. He is evil! What drives him but a will toward destruction of all?

- The juxtaposition of the Fool and Lear is a touch of genius by Shakespeare, as Lear has already proven that he is more than capable of banishing anyone that does not bow down to his needs and requests. A designated court jester, however, is seemingly safe from his fury. He is the one that speaks all of the wisdom in this play, there with almost no will but to drive Lear further into insanity. I think Gloucester’s famous quote applies here as well: “Tis the times’ plague, when madmen lead the blind.”

- The most surreal scene of the play for me is the meeting of the mad Lear and the blind Gloucester. What a climax. Lear rants about scorn and hatred for the necessity of sexual reproduction and his fear of the feminine in humanity and nature, a scene that holds so much gravity and threatens to come loose at every line.

It is a testament to how beautiful and human this work is that the characters are not far-fetched. We can see ourselves in Lear, if we allow ourselves to think of when the road of ambition may come to an end. We can see ourselves in Gloucester and Kent, punished for doing right. We can see ourselves in Cordelia, whose intimations and hints at purity are misread and turned against her as weapons. And of course, we all know a few Gonerils, Regans, and Edmunds. Not reading Shakespeare is truly a miss, and I believe that we owe it to ourselves to ensure we do so, if no more than even once in our lives. After all, “nothing will come of nothing”.
Profile Image for Alex.
1,418 reviews4,383 followers
November 12, 2018
Here is Shakespeare's biggest bummer in a long career of bummers. Remember that catch phrase kids thought was clever in like 7th grade as they were discovering the joys of nihilism: "Life sucks, then you die"? That's the actual and entire message of King Lear. "Nothing will come of nothing," rages the doddering King, and there is nothing, and nothing comes of it.

And along the way, don't forget, we get maybe Shakespeare's most disturbing scene, the outing of the vile jelly, Marlovian in its gruesomeness.

Shakespeare liked the word "nothing", only partly because it's vaginas. He has some dark fun with it in Lear - check him out as he offers the disinherited Cordelia to Burgundy in marriage:
If aught within that little seeming substance,
Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced,
And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,
She's there, and she is yours.
Burgundy's like nah, I'm good. But this play is about something less pleasant than vaginas: it's about the real nothing, entropy, death.

Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World points out that Shakespeare has this weird tendency to excise the motive from his plots, which is part of what makes them so endlessly interesting and open to interpretation. Shakespeare's source for Othello has Iago acting out of jealousy, because he has a crush on Desdemona. But Shakespeare more or less chops that out; Iago's motives are left murky. "Demand me nothing. What you know, you know," he says as he leaves the stage, and there's that word again.

And Shakespeare mucks with his source again in Lear. His main source (this is an oft-told tale) has Lear staging the whole "Who loves me?" thing so as to get Cordelia to marry who he wants. (It sortof makes sense in context.) Shakespeare once again trims it out; in his version, the game seems like no more than an old asshole who likes to be flattered. He changes the ending, too, which is happy in most of the sources. His Lear starts and ends in chaos and meaningless tragedy: nothing from nothing.

Lear isn't perfect. That fake suicide scene has never worked for me, and the mock trial doesn't really either, and frankly there's less in the way of glorious wordplay than there is in Hamlet or Tempest, and the parallel plots work together but also make it seem less focused than Macbeth or Othello. But it's a storm of nihilism, a dark night of literature, a virtuoso depiction of despair without glimmer. As an exploration of the emptiest corners of the world, the bleak and barren heath of your soul...nothing beats it.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
917 reviews947 followers
October 29, 2014
His greatest work, in my opinion, which makes it one of the greatest works of art our species has produced. Its greatness lies not just in its language or in its analysis of power, but in the extraordinary structure of it, and its complete refusal to follow the usual dramatic arcs. How shocking must it have been for a Jacobean audience to see a god-chosen king reduced to scrabbling around in a hovel?

The heartbreaking irreversibility of mortality. Age and loss. The stripping away of self. Love. Torture and state-sponsored brutality. An unjust God, if he (or they) are even there. Family. Remembering and recognizing those suffering and impoverished, those without our luck or the gifts given to us by our birth.

2109 fellow Goodreaders gave it 1 star. Many call it boring. Some even say it is predictable and has no moral lesson. That these people have the right to vote and to procreate is frightening to me.
Profile Image for Kevin.
496 reviews83 followers
July 17, 2021
The key to maximizing the effect of Shakespeare, I’ve discovered, is to speak his words aloud. There is a dimension to his genius that is only comprehensible when you hear his locution. The mere act of reading Shakespeare silently, to oneself, seems a missed opportunity and, let’s be honest, a sacrilege.

Of course, this is problematic if you are accustomed to reading while commuting via public transportation. Nothing clears out a bus or a train faster than a passenger declaring, “The prince of darkness is a gentleman!”
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews879 followers
May 3, 2021
Yep, still far and away my favorite Shakespeare play.
Profile Image for Kelly.
878 reviews4,024 followers
February 21, 2012
As the bright red firament of stars above might give away, I really responded to this play. I may have done so in both negative and positive ways, but this story made a really lasting impression on me. It did for me what Macbeth could not- gave me genuinely tragic characters who earned the tears and compassion that I gave for them by the end of the journey.

Thinking about it in retrospect, a useful guide for King Lear is provided by another of Shakespeare's characters, Jacques, and his Ages of Man speech from As You Like It, the bit that ends in "second childishness":

"The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.
Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness..."

King Lear's story takes place in these tragic, declining last two ages of man. As the description of the sixth age suggests, King Lear starts off a figure easy to ridicule. A selfish, rather self centered old man, used to a life full of power, with all the sycophants and alternate reality that that entails, now wants to retire, expressed in a way that manages to make it seem even more selfish than it really should be: "shake all cares and business from our age; Conferring them on younger strengths, while we Unburthen'd crawl toward death.". In other words, time to man-child it up, some serious Will Ferrell style! He goes to to demand that his children fawn all over him one last time before he gives up his power to them- if you take that for a flicker of recognition that he might have to store it up after that given that there are other people to suck up to now, think again- and then makes his last act of power disowning and rejecting the only child who understands what love is. Her bitchy older sisters take over, and things fall out about as you would expect after that from a strict main plot perspective. King Lear and his serious lack of foresight get fucked over by both of his power hungry daughters, who then start to turn on each other, one insufficiently evil husband, and anyone else around them who might be termed a decent human being- all this would make it so easy to just scream "YOU FOOL!" and dismiss the whole mess.

But I can't- because I recognize the truth of all of it, and the heartbreakingly, unbelievably amazing way that Shakespeare was able to draw the psychology of this aging man. Does he have faults? Of course he does, scads, but if you think about those faults, what could be more understandable? Anyway, I'll get to the meat of it:

There's so much to deal with in here, about family, power, government, class and gender, but here I'll focus on my favorite thing about the play: the ideas about perception. I loved the agonizing depiction of what can happen when you create an unrealistic world for yourself, and then suddenly, the real world interferes with it. If you think about it, all the trouble starts and continues and ultimately snowballs into that clusterfuck of a tragic ending because everyone refuses to play the roles given to them: Cordelia starts it all with her refusal to be a dutiful daughter in just precisely the way her father wishes her to express it. She doesn't even refuse the essence of the role- she just does not embody his vision of it. The sisters continue it with their refusal to actually be what King Lear wanted them to be- his ever loving dutiful and sycophantic fawning young women, his illusion of his youthful attractivenss come to life. Both sisters choose power, they choose agency, they seize what is given to them with both hands. And in some ways, the audience can understand this, at least at first- it is hard for Lear to let go of his power, the next generation has to be clear about the change of command. Kent is not the ideal (in Lear's mind) courtier for one moment, daring to question the King, and he is banished. Edgar appears not to be an ideal son, Gloucester tries to have him chased down, likewise. Edmund, (in what starts out as a very tragic, relatable way) refuses to be merely the bastard son, and his ambition to be more nearly destroys his family. It gets to the poignant point where people can't recognize their close relatives standing right in front of them because they are not who they expect them to be, and in Gloucester's case, the inability to see becomes quite literal. It was so painful, I found myself misting up and crying as half the cast realizes what they've been missing right under their very noses, and the other half finally, desperately- and at great cost to their soul or body (even to the point of death)- makes them see it. King Lear's journey is especially poignant, of course. He's having his entire world destroyed not long before he could have left it, in utterly blissful ignorance, never knowing a single truth about the world. A fool, but a happy fool, and who, in compassion, would have wished otherwise upon him?

But he does learn, while also being punished for the life he's lead, and that redeems it for me. Is some of it in madness? Yes, of course it is. Because for a man of that age, suddenly seeing everything he never did before, of course he would have to find sense in madness and believe himself out of his mind in order to make some sense of a world he thought he knew. He does learn, though, I have to reiterate that- he learns what his two older daughters are, what Cordelia is, he learns what love and loyalty really mean, and ultimately, he learns what a selfish fucking bastard he's been. The speech where he speaks of the poor wretches who always have to weather storms- he's finally given up the selfishness that utterly ruined his life. And if this feels inadequate, he is punished by the deaths of all of his children, the loss of his sanity and his health, and ultimately by his death. What bigger price do you want the man to pay? He ends just as Jacques would mercilessly predict, in:

"...mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."
Profile Image for Nikos Tsentemeidis.
405 reviews207 followers
May 3, 2016
"Πρέπει να αντέξουμε το βάρος της θλιβερής μας εποχής:
τα λόγια μας να μην τα επιβάλλει χρέος, αλλά κατάθεση ψυχής.
Οι πρόγονοί μας είχαν βάσανα χειρότερα. Κι εμείς, ��ου τώρα ζούμε,
ούτε στα χρόνια τους θα φτάσουμε, ούτε τόσα πολλά θα δούμε."

Συγκλονιστικό έργο. Το τρίτο και καλύτερο που διαβάζω του Shakespeare, μετά τον Άμλετ και τον Μακμπέθ. Άξιος απόγονος των τριών αρχαίων Ελλήνων τραγικών. Δεν έχω κάτι πιο συγκεκριμένο να πω, κάθε φράση είναι ένα δίδαγμα.
Profile Image for SaEeD.
22 reviews
August 7, 2022
تماشاخانه بزرگ دیوانگان

شاه لیر را میتوان دردناکترین نمایشنامه و اوج بدبینی شکسپیر به انسانها دانست. او اینبار با استفاده از یک اسطوره‌ی قدیمی بریتانیایی (سلتی) به جستجویی مفاهیمی مثل قدرت، حکومت، پادشاهی و شاید بالاتر از همه ذات انسانها رفته و یکی از ماندگار ترین تراژی های خود را خلق کرده.
نمایشی جنون آمیز از ویرانگری و کشمکش قدرت، در دنیایی که نیرنگ و فریب از صداقت و محبت ارزش بیشتری دارد. کور کردن پدر، خفه کردن همسایه، شوهرکشی، خواهرکشی، دشمنی پدر، نیرنگ فرزند، خیانت، توطئه، آشوب و … تنها بخشی از جنایت هایی است که در این جهان اتفاق می‌افتد.

گمان کنم آثار هیچ نویسنده ای در تاریخ اندازه ی شکسپیر خوانده و نقد نشده. و من اینجا بعنوان یک خواننده صرفا به چند نکته مختصر از اندیشه های شکسپیر که در این اثر توجهم را جلب کرد اشاره میکنم.

حکومت و قدرت
در میان بزرگان حکومت تنها قدرت مهم است. قدرتی که راه را بر خشم و ذات پلید انسانها آسان میکند و او را از گرفتاری رسم و عادت و اخلاق آزاد میکند. (که یاد آور اخلاق سروران نیچه است. البته فکر میکنم این نگاه شکسپیر به سرشت انسان و قدرت تا حد زیادی تحت تاثیر اندیشه های ماکیاولی باشد). شکسپیر مردم را در این جنگ قدرت به مگس تشبیه میکند. همچون داستان مگس و بچه ای بازیگوش، به بازی می‌کشندمان. این روزگار دردش همین است که کورها را دیوانه ها رهبری میکنند.

سرنوشت و طبیعت
در دوران الیزابت مردم باور داشتند که ستارگان و گردش افلاک در زندگی مردم و سیر اتفاقات دخالت دارد. و مسئول خوشبخی یا بدبختی آدم هاست و از هیچ منطق و اصولی پیروی نمی کند. عدالت جهان را زیر سوال میبرد و حتی انسانهایی با بهترین نیت ها به بدتریت سرنوشت ها دچار میشوند(کوردلیا). بخاطر همین در اثار شکسپیر به کررات بخت و اقبال بصورت "روسپی رسوا" یا "عروس هزار داماد" توصیف شده. همگی بازیچه سرنوشتیم. و طبیعت دائما خود را زیر شلاقهای اوضاع فلکی میبیند. طبیعت نه بر دیوانه دل میسوزاند و نه بر عاقل…
که در این داستان در نهایت اگر تحمل ضربه های سرنوشت را داشته باشید(و دیوانه یا کشته نشوین)، آدم را رام میکند و آشنایی با غم و اندوه، تخم رحم و نیکی را در او می‌کارد.(مثل ادگار و لیر)

شباهت زندگی انسان با صحنه تئاتر
اشاره بعدی شکسپیر به بی ثباتی جایگاه انسانها و پوچی مقام و ثروت و … است. انگار همگی ما انسان ها نقابهایی به چهره زدیم و نقشهایی ر ا بر صحنه تئاتر زندگی بازی میکنیم که هر لحظه ممکن است این نقش ها تغییر کنند. همچون لیر که ابتدا نقش شاه را داشت و بعد نقش دیوانه. دقیقا مثل بازی بچه ها، که اول بازی از هم میپرسند: کی دزد میشه؟ کی قاضی؟ و مدام نقشها را جابه‌جا میکنند. (این ارجاعات شکسپیر به تئاتر و قسمتهای نمایش در نمایش همیشه برای من جالب بوده)

زن از نگاه شکسپیر
در این نمایش لیرشاه سه دختر دارد. دو دختر بد و شرور و یک دختر پاک و نیک سرشت. اگرچه اطلاعی از شرایط اجتماعی و فرهنگی زمان شکسپیر و نگاهش به زنان ندارم. اما ما اینجا دوباره همان نگاه دوگانه فرشته(قدیس) و فاحشه را به زنان داریم. انگار زن نمیتواند چیزی خارج از این دو باشد. حتی خیلی از جاها که لیرشاه به گلایه شروع به بدگویی از دخترانش میکند، جملات تبدیل به عبارات اغراق امیز و کلی درمورد زنان میشود. تا حدی که به قنطورس تشبیه‌شان میکند. موجوداتی که از سرتا کمر میراث خدایان و از کمر به پایین از آن دیوها هستند:))

متاسفانه توی این نمایش از شخصیت پردازیها به اندازه‌ی اتللو مکبث و هملت خوشم نیومد. لیرشاه خیلی قسمتها دراماتیک و اغراق شده تصویر شده. دختران شکسپیر، همسرانشان و … اکثرا تیپ بودن. سطحی و پرداخت نشده(امیدوارم متعصبان شکسپیر بر من ببخشایند) تنها شخصیت دلقک برای من جالب بود.کسی که در این نمایش حقیقت را میگفت. حیقت تلخ که هیچ کس نمی خواهد آن را بشنود. و در نهایت هم ساکتش کردند…

البته در پایان این جنون و بی عدالتی، شکسپیر همچنان به پیروزی انسانیت و خوبی ایمان دارد. انگار زمان آنچه حیله گری را پنهان میسازد، آشکار میکند و نمایش با یک دیالوگ شعاری پایان می‌یابد:
بار سنگین این روزگار را باید به دوش کشید. آنچه حس میکنیم، سخن از همان بگوییم. نه آنچه گفتنش بر ما ضرور شمرده میشود. آنکه پیر است بار بیشتری بر دوش برده. ما که جوانیم، کاش هرگز نه آن همه ببینینم و نه آن همه طولانی عمر کنیم!

پ.ن1: .برخلاف هملت و اتللو، به‌آذین اینجا نتونسته بود اون لحن ادبی و فاخر شکسپیر را به فارسی برگردونه. اگرپه شنیده بودم بهترین ترجمه از لیرشاهه ولی امیدوارم بعدا بتونم ترجمه بهتری از کتاب پیدا کنم. یا اونقدر باسواد بشم که خود متن شکسپیر رو بخونم:)
پ.ن2: بعد از خوندن این نمایش عزت و احترامم برای جناب کوروساوا چندین برابر شد. فیلم Ran نه تنها ذات نمایش شکسپیر رو درک کرده. بلکه بخوبی تونسته این نمایش رو با فرهنگ خودش مطابقت بده و شاهکار دیگری خلق بکنه.
پ.ن3: داستان لیرشاه مطابقت های زیادی با داستان فریدون شاه و تقسیم کشور بین سه پسرش داره. حتی دلقک هم من رو یاد کاراکتر مبارک انداخت. که برای اهل مطالعه بررسی ریشه ای این کهن اسطوره میتونه جالب باشه.
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