Sunday, May 10, 2009

King Lear - Again

My online book club read King Lear so I reread it. I had about the same reaction. I realize it's a classic, but it's not my favorite. I discovered I'm not alone.
I finished Lear last night and it's actually the second time I read it in the last 9 months or so as I read it for another Great Books group.

I have to say, while I know this is considered his best play, I don't like it as much as MacBeth or The Tempest or several others. I think I lose patience with Lear because as Jack mentioned, he brings on all his troubles. If he knew his daughters better . . . if he hadn't divided the kingdom which he obviously still wants to rule . . . .

Also it gets rather gruesome - Gloucester's eyes getting put out was too much for me.

The language is excellent as one would expect. I did like every scene with the fool in it.

In the back of my edition they included some of the source material for the play and criticism. One critic said that in other hands, this would be a disaster, I agree.

According to one critic, A.C. Brady, Lear is both Shakespeare's most admired play and one of the less popular and financially successful. He believes it's uneven and that it's in many ways too big for the stage. There is a log of emotion to take in.
If you're going to read this get, Norton's Critical Edition. I found the background and critical essays interesting.

In the online discussion one writer said that Kurasawa's version of Lear (Ran) convinced him to switch from theater to film as a major. That is a powerful movie. I think Lear makes a better film than play as a director can be more panoramic in film.

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