Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “King Lear” as Want to Read:
King Lear
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

King Lear

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  186,475 ratings  ·  4,671 reviews
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 p ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 338 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Simon Schuster (first published 1605)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about King Lear, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Munqith Gharib I like all Shakespeare's bad-boys. …moreI like all Shakespeare's bad-boys. (less)
Natalie Chickey I think it is Shakespeare's finest work, but, as a high school British literature teacher, I choose to teach Hamlet or Macbeth, as I believe they are …moreI think it is Shakespeare's finest work, but, as a high school British literature teacher, I choose to teach Hamlet or Macbeth, as I believe they are more approachable for that age group. If I can excite my students to the great works of Shakespeare (and I am sure that I do!), then I know they will pick up Lear on their own!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeePride and Prejudice by Jane AustenTwilight by Stephenie Meyer
Best Books Ever
53,111 books — 207,392 voters
Hamlet by William ShakespeareMacbeth by William ShakespeareRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareA Midsummer Night's Dream by William ShakespeareOthello by William Shakespeare
Best of William Shakespeare
97 books — 1,243 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  186,475 ratings  ·  4,671 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of King Lear
Bill Kerwin
May 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing

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 stra
Ahmad Sharabiani
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.

عنوانها: «شاه لیر»، «لیر شاه»؛ «نمایشنامه شاه لیر»؛ «الملک لیر»؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ انتشاراتیها: (بنگاه ترجمه و
Amit Mishra
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
“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
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody with no exception
Recommended to Dolors by: Núria Espert
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 ...more
Henry Avila
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"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 hea ...more
Amalia Gkavea
“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.”

“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
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 bre
Michael Finocchiaro
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
Nov 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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 Ve ...more
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]


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.
Daniel Chaikin
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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 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 w
Oct 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Fran
Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
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! ...more
Jul 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-20
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
Feb 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, farts, rth-lifetime
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 grues
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-bard, 2010
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
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
Dannii Elle
This year I made it my goal to increase the amount of Shakespeare plays I have read and this included revisiting some of my favourites. I first read King Lear whilst in school, and can remember relatively little about my experience of reading it but could recall the most significant moments of the plot.

This focuses on the family drama that ensues after King Lear requests his three daughters to pronounce their love for their father. The two eldest daughters freely proclaim their love whilst young
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
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.
To call King Lear a tragedy somehow seems lacking. I don't know where in literature (let alone in real life) you could find a greater succession of calamities, all coming to a bad end. It's generally regarded as one of Shakespeare's greatest works, right along with Hamlet and Macbeth.
4.5 stars
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One day I may find the time and the energy to prepare some well thought out, elegantly composed, insightful and informative reviews of Shakespeare’s greatest plays – affording them with at least a modicum of the respect that they justly deserve. In the meantime – I am offering a few very quickly thought through ideas on what are undoubtedly the greatest (English language) literary works for the stage ever written.

The majority of Shakespeare’s 37 or 38 plays (depending on who you ask) are imbued
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Second Reading: Just as amazing as I remembered (:


First Reading:

Tonight is opening night for my school's extracurricular performance of this wonderful play. I've read it probably a minimum of 20 times over these past 10 weeks and just fell in love with this entire story. I adore all my cast mates and just can't get over how excited I am to perform this! And I cannot be grateful enough to be playing such a strong, powerful, wicked character like Regan. She was so fun to get to know and
David Sarkies
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tragedy
A Story of a Man who just wants to be Loved
16 April 2009

This is by far and away my favourite Shakespeare play. It is a very dark and brooding play that is not only incredibly violent, but also ends very badly for most of the main characters. King Lear is one of Shakespeare's great tragedies (along with the Scottish Play and Hamlet) though I find that Hamlet is a lot tighter and the plots are a lot more intertwined than King Lear.

What I mean by this is that there are, I'll say two, plots runnin
This was something that I read as an A-level set text in English Literature at the age of seventeen or so. It's only many years later that it is slowly dawning on me just how shocking a play it is. Not simply because of the ultra violence on and off stage (and for well over a hundred years theatre goers saw a version with a happy ending in which Cordelia wasn't hanged by the neck until dead) but the device of concurrent monologues with actors on stage not engaged in dialogue and the pre-Christia ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Yep, still far and away my favorite Shakespeare play.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
NovelTeaMN: Film Adaptations of Lear 2 7 Aug 25, 2020 05:26AM  
UCAS English 11 R...: September Book Review 1 5 Sep 30, 2018 05:07PM  
Reading plays vs. Seeing Plays 2 18 Mar 22, 2018 12:25PM  
Distortion in King Lear? 2 17 Mar 15, 2018 02:13AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dr. Faustus
  • Oedipus Rex  (The Theban Plays, #1)
  • The Alchemist
  • Beowulf
  • Death of a Salesman
  • The Canterbury Tales
  • Waiting for Godot
  • Paradise Lost
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • A Doll's House
  • Antigone (The Theban Plays, #3)
  • Medea
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • The Duchess of Malfi
  • The Glass Menagerie
  • The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Volpone
  • Gulliver's Travels
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
51 likes · 12 comments
114 trivia questions
4 quizzes
More quizzes & trivia...
“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.” 565 likes
“Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.” 356 likes
More quotes…