Many critics hold that Shakespeare's King Lear is primarily a drama of meaningful suffering and redemption within a just universe ruled by providential higher powers. William Elton's King Lear and the Gods challenges the validity of this widespread optimistic view. Testing the prevailing view against the play's acknowledged sources, and analyzing the functions of the double plot, the characters, and the play's implicit ironies, Elton concludes that this standard interpretation constitutes a serious misreading of the tragedy.
This updated and expanded analysis of King Lear in performance includes new chapters on the television version of the Royal National Theatre production directed by Richard Eyre and starring Ian Holm; and on Akira Kurosawa's Ran. Earlier chapters provide close, detailed analyses of the stage, film and television interpretations of John Gielgud, Harley Granville Barker, Paul Scofield, Peter Brook, Peter Ustinov, Michael Gambon, Adrian Noble, Grigori Kozintsev, Michael Hordern, Jonathan Miller, Laurence Olivier and Michael Elliott. By examining such issues as the playing of Lear, the staging of the storm and the battle, and the choice of historical period, this book shows how interpretation and performance are bound together, and how the play is transformed through different historical and political contexts.
Modern editions of a popular and trusted series.
One of the most popular of Shakespeare's plays, King Lear is also one of the most thought-provoking. The play turns on the practical ramifications of the words of Christ that we should render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's. When confronted with the demand that she should render unto Caesar that which is God's, Cordelia chooses to "love and be silent". As the play unfolds each of the principal characters learns wisdom through suffering. This edition includes new critical essays by some of the leading lights in contemporary literary scholarship.
Discussion on Shakespeare, his stage, and the texts of the plays supplements the tragic drama of an old king's pride and foolishness
Updated critical edition of King Lear, including an introductory section on interpretations.
Presents essays written from the seventeenth through the early twenty-first centuries that offer an analysis and critique of "King Lear," and includes a summary of the play and excerpts of key passages.
This edition first published in 1966. Previous edition published 1965 by the University of California Press. Perhaps more than any other play of Shakespeare's King Lear has been subjected to almost totally contradictory interpretations. In the first historical section of the book the author describes the varying concepts of the play and the distortions of text and even plot that have been widely used. Garrick's playing of Lear as a pathetic and down-trodden old man. Laughton's and Olivier's versions and Herbert Blaus's theory of the 'subtext' are described and analysed. The central section of the book examines the medieval, folk and romance sources of the play. The final chapter illustrates how the action of the play and its pervading violence and evil are not explained in terms of human motive and rely for their meaning more on their effects than their antecedents. An important theme is the play's examination of society and the ties of service and family love.
Reviews the story of the classic Shakespeare play with historical background and character sketches.