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King Lear

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  110,065 ratings  ·  1,994 reviews
One of Shakespeare's finest tragedies, the work displays a pessimism and nihilism that make it a 20th-century favorite. The aging King Lear decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, allotting each a portion in proportion to the eloquence of her declaration of love. The hypocritical Goneril and Regan make grand pronouncements and are rewarded; Cordelia, the y ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1605)
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Community Reviews

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Riku Sayuj

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]


Bard:

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.

Hav
...more
Bram
In a world where every king must give up his crown, where tragedies end in death and all comes to dust, this is a hopeful tale. This hope won’t appear in a plot summary or in the morbid sum of deaths by play’s end, and yet there are key moments of reconciliation for both of the aged, long-suffering characters. After experiencing little but anguish for much of the play, Lear and Gloucester are granted a reprieve from the darkest of fates. Granted, these 11th hour reprieves are short-lived, but in ...more
David
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 outse
...more
Kat Stark


Let's take a jog through memory lane...to my high school years...when I fell in love with Shakespeare's work...(With some added dialogue and gifs of course, IOW = In Other Words)

We see in King Lear, that Shakespeare shows a contrast between the role a man plays in society and the role man plays for himself. Lear is, as known, a King and is supposed to be a man in control. A King of high status is loved by many and is in charge of everything that goes on in the Kingdom; overlooks others. Lear is
...more
Manny
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 betwee
...more
Kelly
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 Ma
...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
2109 fellow Goodreaders [can’t be wrong] 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.


I am NOT ranking the play itself here, only the Norton Critical Edition version (2007). Shakespeare’s Lear is, duh, one of western culture’s great achievements and personally I think it has become my favorite Shakespeare play.

I won't lie... I didn't even finish this one. All of the fal
...more
Jonathan
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.
...more
Trevor
I went to see Lear again last week. It must be the fifth time I have seen it performed and I’ve read it three or four times. It is a play that I can never become ‘familiar’ with. It is like no other play I know.

This time was the second time I have seen it performed by the Bell Shakespeare Company. This one was much better than the last – and I think I can say that because this time the performance brought out lots of the humour of the play. This is a play that is as dark as it is possible to mak
...more
Amir Lewiz


بضدها تتميز الأشياء


هنا الشر و الخير في صراع قوي و عنيف


هنا الخيانة و العقوق و الأنانية و محبة المال و السلطة و الخداع و التملق

و هنا أيضا الوفاء و الحب الحقيقي و التضحية وانكار الذات


هنا تكريم الكاذب الخادع
و احتقار و نفي الصادق المخلص


و بناءً عليه فإن الأحداث كما يطلق علي هذه المرحلة من أدب شكسبير :

مــأســــاااااة

و كالعادة جمال الأسلوب و متعة الحوار بين الشخصيات ..بلا حشو أو ملل



حينما نري أسيادنا
يقاسون ما نقاسي
لا نشعر بمصائبنا
و من تألم وحده كان ألمه أشد علي النفس
حيت يولّي ظهره لمظاهر السعا
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
I love this play. It is my favourite of all of 'em.

Upon re-reading, I'm struck by the observation that the King of France is the smartest man here. The only one whose actions show any kind of foresight. "She is herself a dowry...". Although he got sloppy seconds and his calculated risk didn't pay off, he saw the writing on the wall from Act 1, Scene 1. He knew them skanky beyotches, G & R, would do themselves in and that Lear would lose his shit when he realized what he'd done. And he'd have
...more
Ellen
On the Fool

The Fool’s presence in King Lear lasts for little more than two acts. While the fool provides some needed comic relief, more importantly, he serves as Lear’s moral guide, illuminating Lear’s faults and provoking Lear to action. The first references to the Fool serve to let us know that he’s not in Goneril’s camp, and he is sympathetic to Cordelia.

When the Fool does at last appear, Lear’s regard is apparent. The Fool, in conversation with Kent, refers to Lear obliquely as “this fellow”
...more
Alex
Here is Shakespeare's biggest bummer in a long career of bummers. In fact, in all of literature maybe only Jude the Obscure matches it for general depressivosity. 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 ge
...more
midnightfaerie
Click here for William Shakespeare Disclaimer

King Lear, a play by William Shakespeare, was a depiction of traitors within families. Something akin to a soap opera at times, and something that most people with a family can attest to. Lear is a king with three daughters, the youngest, Cordelia, being the only one who loves him. When Lear decides he wants to retire and divide up the kingdom, he summons his daughters to him and asks them how much they love him. He uses their answer to decide how mu
...more
Bill  Kerwin

I've read "Lear" many times, and, although I don't believe I learned anything new about the play this reading, I did learn a little about myself and how I have changed. 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 at
...more
Io?
L'amore, l'amore come trait d'union di microscopici rapporti.
Amore filiale, amore del potere, amore carnale, amore.
E la parola. Parola sibillina, parola urlata, parola scritta, parola non detta.
Quando questi due elementi prendono strade diverse dirompente si staglia la tragedia dell'uomo. Solo così comprendo il monito disperato e inascoltato di Shakespeare quando, per bocca di Edgard afferma che noi dobbiamo "dire ciò che sentiamo e non quello che conviene dire”.
Cati Kennedy

Me gustó este libro, trata sobre la ingratitud filial y el desprecio a la vejez. Cómo todo cae ante la búsqueda del poder dañando a otros, y cómo abusan de las personas ancianas.


Los personajes están bien diferenciados, quiénes son los que están del lado del bien (Lear, Cordelia, Kent, Gloucester, Edgar), como los que están del lado del mal (Gonerill, Regan, Cornwall, Oswald); sin embargo tengo mis dudas con respecto a Edmund y a Albany.
Edmund hizo todo lo que hizo por verse menospreciado como ba

...more
Riku Sayuj
Reading 5 different versions along with a modern language rendition simultaneously - to reconcile the Q and F controversy for myself.
Melissa Rudder
I think this was my second time reading Shakespeare's King Lear. When I started it, I couldn't decide if I had read it one time already, or three, which seems like a pretty weird mix-up. I think it was one. Though I saw it in Stratford, performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, which was an inspiring and amazing production.

I think the oft-repeated maxim that Shakespeare's plays are best seen and not read is most true for his sex jokes and for King Lear. Because, in seeing King Lear, I felt fo
...more
Bruce
From the beginning, and indeed even by reputation, Lear is rash, impulsive, desiring of flattery and used to being flattered and obeyed, so his actions and temperament are not out of character. It is surprising that he receives the love and loyalty he does from Cordelia and Kent. Even in his retirement, a retirement envisioned by him as free from care and responsibility, he is demanding and imperious, unattractive and unsympathetic. He is ever rash, choleric, and given to emotional extremes and ...more
Hayat الياقوت
لم يسعفني الوقت لقراءة المسرحية الأصلية، فجاء -كامل الكيلاني- رحمه الله بملخص بديع لها.
الجميل أنه صاغ بعض الفقرات على شكل أبيات شعرية ممتازة وتوصل المعنى.

جميل جدا للصغار، وأجمل للكبار الذين لا يملكون الوقت.
Joe Valdez
May 05, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Retirees, sisters, banished employees
Shelves: plays
My game plan for revisiting Shakespeare was to stream video of a staging of the play, listening and watching, while reading along to as much of the original text as was incorporated by the staging. Later, I read the entire play in the modern English version.

The staging I found for King Lear was the 2008 television film starring Ian McKellen in the title role. Shot at Pinewood Studios in London, the cast includes Jonathan Hyde (playing a good guy for once!) as Kent, Frances Barber as Goneril, Mon
...more
Paul
My all-time favorite Shakespeare play. Had a great time teaching it last year, and it's a real testament to the play's universal appeal that a bunch of 17 year olds can empathize so strongly with the aged Lear. I cannot read the last scene without crying, no matter where I am. I'm getting a little misty eyed just thinking about it. "thou'lt come again never never never...". Just heartbreaking and totally unredemptive at the end as well. Also the best and strongest of all the subplots in any of h ...more
Lady Jane
This play is about a king who was starting to feel old and tired, and endeavored to divide his kingdom amongst his three daughters. All he required of them in return was to express their love for him. So the two eldest daughters, being the Machiavels that they are, promise him the moon and the stars. The youngest daughter, who in the end proved to love him the most, replies in a nonchalant manner that she cannot compete with her sisters' expressions of love, and henceforth, she haughtily asserte ...more
Kurt
First of all, I loved the Spark Notes NO FEAR version which lets you read the modern English translation on the odd pages while the corresponding original text is on the even pages. My method was to read one full scene at a time in the modern text followed by the same scene in the original. It worked really well for me. I understood exactly what was going on all the time, which was far from true in my previous attempts at reading Shakespeare, and as a result the original text was rendered beauti ...more
Rachel
Aug 12, 2007 Rachel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Shakespeare fans
Recommended to Rachel by: Shakespeare Goal, College Course, High School Class
Shelves: 2-loved-it
When my A.P. English teacher, Mr. Anderson, asked me if I had read King Lear, I replied something like "Yeah, and I can't believe I have to read that piece of trash again." I think it was the one time he was disappointed in me... Well, after having read it the second time for Mr. Anderson and again in college, I have finally come to appreciate the work that is King Lear...and I now wonder why I had a problem with it in the first place. Filled with political and familial discord, this play delves ...more
Briynne
I love the three daughters of King Lear, and I love this play. The irony, and ultimate tragedy, of this play is that the King cannot spot love when he sees it. He falls for the false affection and fawning of his mercenary elder daughters Goneril and Regan, and misses the quiet, honest love and duty of his youngest, Cordelia. The sisters are all married to powerful men; Goneril and Regan to dukes eager to sieze control of the kingdom Lear divides between them, and Cordelia to the French king who ...more
Artemisia
Lear: No, no, no, no! Orsù, avviamoci alla prigione, noi due soltanto. E canteremo come uccelli in gabbia. E quando mi dirai di benedirti, m'inginocchierò, e ti chiederò perdono. E così vivremo, e pregheremo, e canteremo, e ci racconteremo antiche storie, e sorrideremo alle farfalle dorate, e udremo le novelle di corte dalla bocca di poveri vagabondi: e anche noi converseremo con loro, di chi perde e di chi vince, e di chi è dentro e chi resta fuori, e ci daremo a riflettere sul mistero delle co ...more
Paul Dinger
Shakespeare goes to the Ancient Sophocles for this play. King Lear is just like the lost Oedipus as his foolishness makes him blind and causes him to wonder like Oedipus while war unfolds all around him. Only instead of Oedipus' loving daughters, Lears are snakes who fight over his land and plot to kill each other and daddy. There's even Edmund who plays everyone like a fiddle and madtom bedlam and a real blinding. Lear's foolishness is that he can rest on his laurels and give up his crown peace ...more
matt

Absolute death metal face melting riff of a play.

I read it in high school, barely getting anything out of it, and kept it on the back burner to re-visit someday.

Gave it a good re-read recently and it took the top of my head off. Such excoriating, fierce, uncompromising bleakness mixed with raw tenderness amid apocalyptic, anarchic social nightmare. I'd really like to reread this again and put down my thoughts and interpretations one of these days....
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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 tr ...more
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“Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.” 230 likes
“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.” 219 likes
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