Oxford World's Classics: The Oxford Shakespeare: The History of King Lear (World Classics)
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King Lear, widely considered Shakespeare's most deeply moving, passionately expressed, and intellectually ambitious play, has almost always been edited from the revised version printed in the First Folio of 1623, with additions from the quarto of 1608. Now for the first time, this new volume presents the full, scholarly edition to be based firmly on the quarto, now recognized as the base text from which all others derive. A thorough, attractively written introduction suggests how the work grew slowly in Shakespeare's imagination, fed by years of reading, thinking, and experience as a practical dramatist. This editition consists of a new, modern-spelling text; a full index to the introduction and commentary; production photographs and related art. The on-page commentary and detailed notes to this edition offer critical help in understanding the language and dramaturgy in relation to the theaters in which King Lear was first performed. Additional sections reprint the early ballad, which was among the play's earliest sources, and provide additional guides to understanding and appreciating one of the greatest masterworks of Western civilization.
About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
the theatre, others, such as James Barry’s ‘King Lear and Cordelia’ (Pressly’s fig. 2) represent scenes not performed during the period, when Tate’s adaptation held the stage, and still others may be either purely imaginary or only obliquely influenced by stage practice. 2 The Shakespeare Music Catalogue, ed. B. N. S. Gooch and D. Thatcher, 5 vols. (Oxford, 1991), is noted on p. 290 below. 3 Probably the most successful operatic version is that by Aribert Reimann, published in 1978 and written
writings are reprinted in facsimile in The Collected Works of Robert Armin, with introductions by J. P. Feather, 2 vols. (New York, 1992). 1 Ogden and Scouten, pp. 129–32. 2 Whereas Leslie Hotson considered that Lear’s Fool ‘belonged to the contemporary scene’ (Shakespeare’s Motley (1952), p. 100), David Wiles (p. 190) regards Shakespeare’s use of the traditional fool’s appurtenances as deliberately historicizing; ‘Lear’s fool belongs to a vanished world, and not to the social reality of 1605’.
in the Duke of Albany’s Palace’, or ‘A Chamber in a Farmhouse adjoining the Castle’, to quote from Muir’s edition—has slowly been abandoned1 but still influences thinking about the play: it is common to speak of the heath scenes even though the precise word ‘heath’ occurs nowhere in the text.2 Stage directions vary greatly from one edition to another in the extent to which they attempt to flesh out the often inadequate directions of the early texts, helping the reader to envisage stage action.
wat’rish Burgundy Shall buy this unprized precious maid of me.— Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind. 250 Thou losest here, a better where to find. LEAR Thou hast her, France. Let her be thine, for we Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see That face of hers again. Therefore be gone, Without our grace, our love, our benison.— 225 Come, noble Burgundy. Flourish. Exeunt Lear and Burgundy, then Albany, Cornwall, Gloucester, Edmund, and followers 244 cold’st] Q
been recently performed may not be true: title-page evidence is often unreliable, and the fact that no company is named arouses suspicion. It is possible that publication occurred after Shakespeare’s play had been acted, and that the publishers hoped, as Muir wrote, ‘that it would be mistaken for Shakespeare’s new play, or at least derive some reflected glory from it’.2 This would mean that Shakespeare would have to have read it in manuscript or to have derived his knowledge of it either from