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KING LEAR - Websites, books and productions TO HELP YOU (1 Viewer)


Aug 11, 2008
There have been a few threads made recently related to people’s concern over their understanding of King Lear. Here are a few books, websites and productions to help you.

· www.absoluteshakespeare.com/guides for Lear context and character reviews
· www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/lear provides context, character analysis and explanations of short and long quotations from the play
· www.Shakespeare-online.com/sources provides extracts from sources and suggests links to other sites that have extracts and sources of King Lear e.g. Holinshed’s Chronicles, The Mirror for Magistrates, Sidney’s Faerie Queen and Arcadia
· www.netexplosure.com/Kinglear : the full text of the play can be found here, together with famous quotations, images and a basic self-test quiz on the play
· A good site which has a lot of the Renaissance context, and many other links to other relevant material, including Bradley is www.stjohns-chs.org/library/curriculum/English/renaiss/ren.html
· This is a comprehensive Penguin study guide to the play. It is aimed primarily at teachers, but there is a lot of material that would be useful to A-level students and undergraduates too. There is information on Shakespeare’s language in Lear, and some study questions to help students think about the play as they are reading it. There are lists of quotations linked to the themes of the play, and some comments on themes: http://www.penguinclassics.com/
· www.ukc.ac.uk/secl/german/ge501lk.html is a site which has material on European tragedies. Extensive materials on King Lea – the play as a tragedy, heroism in the play and very good analysis of the characters – especially Cordelia and the villains. This site will help students consider the play and its characters from different perspectives
· This site, which is a Shakespeare Resource Centre, has useful an accessible short sections on historical and social contexts (e.g. Elizabethan England, The Globe) and reading list: www.bardweb.net
· www.talkingto.co.uk/ttws - ‘Talking to William Shakespeare’. This is an excellent site with a large number (50+) of questions and answers specifically on the play. Questions are provided by students and other interested readers, answers provided by scholars. Many of the questions are exactly the kind that A-level students seek answers to when working on assignments. It is very accessible and the format of the site makes it very easy to use
· www.pathguy.com/KingLear is a good study site on the play; it includes comments on images and themes –particularly useful on themes of nature and the word ‘nothing’. There is also access to Tate’s reworked version of the play from this site
· This is a comprehensive site which covers a lot of different materials and ideas about the play, particularly useful for students who want to read a detailed analysis of anger in the play, and a discussion of kingship. It also includes helpful study questions and answers for students: www.webenglishteacher.com/kinglear.html
· www.shakespeare.palomar.edu – ‘Mr Shakespeare and the Internet’ is an excellent guide to Shakespeare resources on the net and general crisis in particular

· For a detailed discussion of the historical context of the performance of King Lear that Shakespeare’s company gave for James I in 1606, See Leah Marcus’ essay “Retrospective: King Lear on St Stephens Night, in King Lear: A Casebook, ed. Kiernan Ryan, 1993
· For a discussion of the Fool as wise man, see Gamini Salgado’s King Lear: Text and Performance, 1984
· For Polish theatre director, Jan Kott, King Lear represented the bleakness of the theatre of the absurd: ‘of the twelve major characters one half are just and good, the other – unjust and bad. It is a division just a consistent and abstract as in a morality play. But this is a morality play in which everyone will be destroyed: noble characters with base ones, the persecutors with the persecuted, the torturers with the tortured. Vivisection will go on until the stage is empty.’ (Shakespeare our Contemporary, 1967)
· For a discussion of the characters of evil in the play, see Gamini Salgado’s King Lear: Text and Performance, 1984
· For a discussion of power and morality in the play, see Kiernan Ryan, Shakespeare: Texts and Contexts, 2000
· For a discussion of the theme of service and self-promotion in the play, see John Russell Brown, Shakespeare: The Tragedies, 2001
· For a discussion of Lear’s relationship with Cordelia, see John Russell Brown, Shakespeare: The Tragedies, 2001
· Edward Bond reworked the play as Lear (1971) – a bleak story set amid the building of a huge symbolic wall around a kingdom. Bond suggested that ‘at death [Lear] begins to make a new life’
· For a discussion of Lear’s relationship with Goneril and Regan, see John Russell Brown, Shakespeare: The Tragedies, 2001
· For a ‘purgatorial’ reading of the play, which compares Lear to the biblical figure Job, see G. Wilson Knight’s The Wheel of Fire, Routledge, 1989
· For a bleak, existentialist reading of the view of humanity portrayed in the play, see Jan Kott, Shakespeare out Contemporary, 1964
· For a detailed discussion of Nature in the play, see Kiernan Ryan, Shakespeare: Texts and Contexts, 2000
· For a reading of the play which offers an unchristian concept of the gods, see William Empson’s Essays on Shakespeare, 1986
· For a feminist approach to the play, see Kathleen McCluskie’s and Coppelia Kahn’s essays in King Lear: A Casebook, ed. Kiernan Ryan, 1993

· The television version of the National Theatre production starring Ian Holm as Lear characterises Edmund as a malcontent scientist – interested in optics and technology – as a symbol for the generation gap between him and his superstitious father Gloucester
· Laurance Oliver’s performance of King Lear televised in 1980 emphasises the pre-Christian setting of the play. It opens within the stone circle of Stonehenge. Lear enters, leaning heavily on his favourite daughter, as the rest of the court prostrate themselves before him
· My Kingdom (2001), a version of the play set in the late 20th century Liverpool, updates the story to portray the consequences for family and business when a charismatic, manipulative criminal boss divides his empire among his three daughters
· Brook’s 1970 film sets the scene of Gloucester’s blinding amid butchery implements and hanging joints of meat. At the moment when Cornwall leans forward to gouge out Gloucester’s eye, the frame goes black, giving a strong sense that we are seeing the scene from his perspective and hearing his agonised screams
· Per Brook’s black and white film (1970) cuts Cordelia asides in Act I Scene 1 before she speaks of her love, thus denying us a point of sympathy with her. The decision is a piece with the bleak mood of this production, with an emotional chill emphasised by the exterior snowscapes
· Olivier’s TV film of 1980 casts the Fool as a vulnerable and zany figure, wearing eccentric tattered clothes and spiky hair; in the BBC version of 1982 the Fool wears white face make-up like a clown and is characterised as an old retainer figure
· In Grigori Kozintsev’s Russian version (1970) the Fool survives the events bit is poignantly mute for the second half of the play, turning into a village idiot figure mourning the loss of his world
· In Olivier’s 1980 TV version, the reunion of Cordelia and Lear is uplit from the snowy-white sheets under which Lear lies sleeping. His vulnerability is symbolised by the fact that his beard has been shaved off – perhaps allying his with the beard-plucked Gloucester in the building scene
· In many film and TV productions, Edmund is shot in close up, delivering his soliloquies directly to the camera. Thus, the audience is encouraged to see how seductive and persuasive the villain can be

GOOD LUCK with your studies on King Lear :uhhuh: Kirsty Xx.


Sep 23, 2008
In your base, killing your doods
good on you for putting all this together - I've also found searching key words in google books extreeeemely useful (although a lot of it is fairly wordy and might be hard for most students to grasp).

Terry Eagletons 'William Shakespeare (rereading literature)' is helpful AND interesting. I suggest reading the first few pages of the language section (even though it's about Hamlet) and then the section on King Lear, even if you're only reading selected pages on google books.

If we didn't have the internet, I don't know how on earth I would study

Kirsty Xx

That's the price we pay
Nov 29, 2007
Location? Location?! Intellectu
Oh wow my thread became a sticky, that's awesome!

I just see so many people lost when it comes to King Lear, and it can be a difficult play to comprehend and digest.

I compiled this thread from information given in the book
York Notes Advanced
King Lear
William Shakespeare

It's the most useful book to get your hands on, and I know it's getting really late but it's still worth a look at if you want to buy it. The website also has information regarding other subjects too.

So yeah putting this thread together was no hassle, I just hope it comes in handy for those that want the help. Plus using www.google.com.au never goes astray if you want summaries on King Lear, just remember to use the best key words possible for your search to get direct results.

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