König Lear : Tragödie

by William Shakespeare

Other authorsWolf Heinrich von Baudissin (Translator)
Paperback, 1992



Call number

HI 3293 L438



Stuttgart: Reclam


Drama. Fiction. HTML: King Lear is considered one of Shakespeare's greatest plays. King Lear decides to step down and divide his kingdom between his three daughters. When his youngest and favorite daughter refuses to compete and perform her love for him, he is enraged and disowns her. She remains loyal to him, however, though he slides into madness and his other children betray him..

User reviews

LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
This is especially devastating because (sorry, Aristotle's Poetics, but indeed because) it departs from the conventions of good Greek tragedy. Nobody's led astray slickly by their tragic flaw;* Lear's ennobled by suffering perhaps but at the start he's no philosopher king (as I'd envisioned) but a
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belching, beer can crushing Dark Ages thug lord who definitely brings it on himself, but not in any exquisite "his virtue was his fall" way. Cordelia is, not an ungrateful, but an ungracious child whose tongue is a fat slab of ham and who can't even manage the basic level of social graces to not spark a family feud that leaves everyone killed (surely a low bar!!). Goneril and Regan are straight-up venial malice, Shakespeare's Pardoner and Summoner; Edmund, obviously, charismatic, but a baaaad man; and the default good guys, the ones with the chance to win the day and transform this blood-filled torture show into two hours' pleasing traffic of the stage, obviously fumble it bigly (Albany, unbrave and too subtle; Kent, brave and too unsubtle; Gloucester, a spineless joke; and what is Edgar doing out in that wilderness when he should be teaming up with Cordelia and Kent to plan an invasion that's a MacArthuresque comeback and not a disaster, to go down as the plucky band of good friends who renewed the social compact with their steel and founded a second Camelot, a new England). They're not all monsters, and there are frequent glimmers of greatness, but they fuck it all up; in other words, they're us.

And then Lear's madness has much too much of, like, an MRA drum circle meeting, with the Fool and Kent and Edgar/John o'Bedlam (that's a name, that) farting around the wastes going "Fuckin' bitches, can't live with em, can't smack em one like they deserve" (though of course this is a Shakespearean tragedy, so everyone pretty much gonna get smacked one sooner or later). Not tragic flaws, in other words, but just flaws, with only glimmers of the good, and all the more devastating for that because all the more real. It's haaard to keep it together for a whole lifetime and not degenerate into a sad caricature of you at your best, or you as you could have been, and I wonder how many families start out full of love and functional relations and wind up kind of hating each other in a low key way just because of the accretion of mental abrasions plus the occasional big wound and because life is long.

This seems like a family that just got tired of not hating each other, standing in for a social order that's gotten tired of basically working from day to day, and everyone's just itching to flip the table and ruin Thanksgiving. I have little faith, post-play, that Edgar or Albany in charge will salvage the day--historically, of course, their analogues did not--and it's gonna be a long hard road to a fresh start (we don't of course try to find one such in the actual history--I mean, 1066?--pretty sure fresh starts don't happen in actual history--but I trust the general point is clear). This seems like the most plausible/least arbitrary of Shakespeare's tragedies, I am saying here, and thus also the most desolate, and one with lessons for any family (cf., say, Hamlet, with its very important lessons for families where the mother kills the dad and marries his brother and the dad's ghost comes back to tell the son to kill his uncle, a niche market to say the least), and one that I'll revisit again and again.

*Side note, my friend Dan calls me "My favourite Hamartian," and I'm recording that here because we may grow apart and I may forget that but I never want to forget really and so, hope to find it here once more
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
King Lear decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters based on how clearly they express their love for him with words and flattery. Cordelia, who loves him best, refuses to participate in the charade, because her actions over the years should be testament enough. Because of this Lear
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gives his other two selfish daughters his entire kingdom. They quickly strip him of power and he realizes his mistake, but it's too late to avoid the horrible consequences.

This is a tragedy in every possibly way. The characters make horrible decisions, which lead to their inevitable downfall. The thing I found fascinating about this play is the family dynamics. Relationships between a father and his daughters, sisters, brothers, a father and his sons; these are the real heartbeat of the story. More than Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet or Othello, King Lear dives deep into families and wonders why we do these things to the people we're suppose to love.
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LibraryThing member m.gilbert
The proud King Lear disowns his most dutiful daughter and is consequently betrayed by his other two. A bastard son betrays both his brother and father out of jealousy and malice. I think it is the saddest of his tragedies, and it moves very quickly to me (though not as quickly as Macbeth). It is
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also really one of the most profound expressions of human suffering ever written in the English language. The play sees deeply into the soul, and so I would often linger a bit on a line or speech with a quiet awe. The actions pierce its characters with a sad, penetrating irony. The eyes will eventually see in their blindness. The heart bleeds and the storm rages. It is depressing, yes. But in all, as depraved as its villains are, I also read in King Lear what is very beautiful about humanity and kinship, however frail it may appear teetering on the edge of a cliff: compassion, loyalty, charity, and mercy.
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LibraryThing member crazyjerseygirl
One of Shakespeare's saddest tales. Read only if you have a tough heart and no children.
LibraryThing member AlanWPowers
Maybe the fifteenth time I've read Lear (this time in the tiny red-leather RSC edition). Always impressed, especially with the curses and curse-like screeds. I can't stand Lear onstage, particularly the blinding of Gloster (so spelled in this edition). How sharper than a serpants teeth it is / to
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have a thankless child--though having a thankless parent like Lear, Act I Sc I, ain't so great either. I do love the Russian film Lear with music by Shostakovich, and the King's grand route through his bestiary of hawks and eagles.
I suppose this is Shakespeare's great (that's redundant, since "Sh" is mostly "great") assessment of homelessness. The undeservingly roofless. it is also his only play on retirement, which he recommends against. Or perhaps Lear should have had a condo in Florida? Of course, his hundred knights, a problem for the condominium board, as it was for his daughters. And Shakespeare, who says in a sonnet he was "lame by fortune's despite" also addresses the handicapped here, recommending tripping blind persons to cheer them up.
Of course, Lear has his personal Letterman-Colbert, the Fool, so he doesn't need a TV in the electrical storm on the heath. That's fortunate, because it would have been dangerous to turn on a TV with all that lightening. The play seems also to recommend serious disguises like Kent's dialects and Edgar's mud. Next time I go to a party I'll think about some mud, which reduces Edgar's likelihood of being killed by his former friends.
And finally, the play touches on senility, where Lear cannot be sure at first Cordelia is his daughter.
I'm not sure, but the author may be recommending senility as a palliative to tragedy--and to aging. A friend of mine once put it, "Who's to say the senile's not having the time of his life?"
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LibraryThing member leslie.98
Thoughts on the play:
-A classic tragedy in which almost everyone dies at the end.
-I really didn't have much sympathy for Lear. He acted incredibly foolishly, not just once in turning his back on Cordelia, but many times.
-At first, Goneral seemed to be acting reasonably. If Lear had restrained
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his knights, much of the tragedy would have been lessened. (This was one of the foolish actions of Lear's I mentioned above.) However, as the plot moves on, she is revealed as being more and more terrible.
-Edmund struck me as the villain, and he also acted as a catalyst for villainy. So I found the scene at near the end after he & Edgar had dueled a bit hard to believe - after everything, Edgar just forgives him!?!
-I was shocked when Cornwall plucks out Gloucester's eyes. I didn't know that was going to happen! Gloucester struck me as the true tragic hero, rather than Lear. Both of them cast off deserving children, but Gloucester realized his error and suffered for it. It wasn't clear to me that Lear recognized his own faults the way Gloucester did.
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LibraryThing member AliceAnna
Probably the best of Shakespeare's works thematically, but not the easiest to follow. The sub-plots, the various intrigues, makes for a very convoluted plot. Some great roles though -- Lear, Edgar playing a madman, the Fool, the evil Edmund and the scheming daughters ... some serious scene-stealing
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LibraryThing member mstrust
Vain and silly King Lear demands that each of his three daughters describe their love for him. When the youngest and favored Cordelia gives a reply that is less gushing, but more reasonable, than her sisters, the King banishes her. This sets up a chain of miserable events in which the sisters and
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their husbands scramble to replace Cordelia in their father's heart, but fail because ambition brings out their cruelty.
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LibraryThing member jscape2000
The version of Lear I saw in 2012 too closely matched the texted: too many story lines, too many gag scenes, and too much talking about how hard it is to be king. The tragedy of Lear is that he gets exactly what he deserved. For me, it lacks much of the intrigue of Macbeth or the poetry of Hamlet
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or Othello.
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LibraryThing member JBD1
One of my favorite Shakespeare plays, though it had been a long time since I read it. Didn't disappoint on a reread!
LibraryThing member Othemts
This is my favorite Shakespeare tragedy. The plot, language, and characterization show the dramatist at his mature best.
LibraryThing member Wubsy
I recently read this for the Shakespeare module on my degree, and was a little disappointed. Having been told it was the Bard's masterpiece, I perhaps came to it with rather high expectations, but then doesn't everyone with Shakespeare? In my own opinion I feel that it falls short of Hamlet, though
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is superior to Othello, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare's line-up of 'famous tragedies' in terms of reading; on performance I cannot comment having seen only Hamlet and R&J. The Fool is an excellent character, and his relationship with Cordelia perhaps the most interesting in the drama. Edmond is also a good dramatic character, but the sisters Regan and Gonerill were flat. Lear's language is itself at times brilliant, but something left me wanting the dexterity of Hamlet. Cordelia is powerful in her absence, and really dominates the final act through her own speech, and that of Lear. The play is undoubtedly infused with some magical moments, but as a text to read, it does not, for me, inspire or humor as Hamlet manages.
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LibraryThing member MrsLee
For some reason I was rather set against this play at the beginning. However, it had all the elements I enjoy in a story; gruesome, depressing and yet, after act two, compelling. I couldn't put it down. It's sort of the flip-side of his comedies. Lots of misunderstanding at the beginning, betrayals
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by the bad guys (that's not in the comedies much), lots of people running around disguised as other people, then at the end, instead of everyone forgiving everyone after all is revealed, almost everyone dies. Not quite the happy-ever-after ending of the comedies, yet in this play it worked. I'm left with one thing unsettled though, what happened to the blind Gloucester?
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LibraryThing member xshyx
Let me talk about this specific edition of the book first. I have to read this edition for my creative writing class. At first, it can be so hard to read, but once you put your heart reading it, it is an easy read. This is also because the translation of the words are on the other side of the page.
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Unlike the other King Lear edition where you need to go to the back of the and check what those words mean. It's also affordable.

The play itself is really good - not too depressing or cheesy for me compare to Hamlet. Even though this is about a royal family, anyone can relate it directly or indirectly whether they have rivalry with their siblings or a loyal assistant or having problems with their parents.
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LibraryThing member kettle666
The writer I feel most in awe of, by a mile, is Shakespeare. I'm not going to say anything much about him because it's all been said, so I'll just say he's the boss, and the play that most shocks and thrills and saddens me is King Lear. But I could almost have said exactly the same about most of
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the plays he wrote. Every time I experience him in performance I feel overwhelmed by his brilliance, and I just have to shut up before I get too sycophantic.
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LibraryThing member dirkjohnson
I'm somewhat biased: Lear is my favorite play written since the time of Euripides (who wrote later than my absolute favorites Aeschylus and Sophocles).

The cast and execution of the Naxos audiobook are also excellent. I would list the cast, but the combination of blurred lines between book and
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performance and my own laziness and busy schedule prohibit me.
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LibraryThing member delias
This is my favorite of the Shakespeare plays, and while I found it while I was in college I think that mature teens--especially females who are dealing with father issues--can identify. The youngest daughter is honest in her devotion of fraternal love, yet the other daughters are selfish and appeal
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the the vanity of the father. The loyal one is banished, and the other daughters conspire--leaving the father blinded and wandering through the wilderness. In the end, it is a bitter tragedy with no winners. The father is broken, the daughters are betrayed by their greediness, and Cordelia is dead. The fool in this play plays a very important role in Lear's realization, and he too is sacrificed. There is much symbolism in this play that, when analyzed and directed at the modern teen could have much discussion. Given its complexity, it might be most sensible to consider this as part of a more senior curriculum. There are also many contemporary sources, both real and imagined, to draw from this univeral theme. If there's a way to get a teen interested in Shakespeare, you can do no wrong!
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LibraryThing member jpsnow
Compare to his other masterpieces, this was for me too wide in character and at the same time lacking the intimacy of baseline human feelings or experience. "Thy truth be thy dower."
LibraryThing member reedchr3
Of the limited amount of the Bard's work that I'm even slightly familiar with, this is my favorite. The stakes seemed a lot higher than the comedies I've read (obviously), but the intensity of this play even seems to top some of Shakespeare's more famous tragedies. Maybe it was the storm, maybe it
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was the eyeballs. Regardless, this is a play that I would love to teach, and would be my first choice when it comes to Shakespeare. The difficulty of the text may be a rude awakening, however.

Interesting fact: Snippets of the play can be heard laced through the end of The Beatles song "I Am the Walrus." A BBC broadcasting of the play was playing on the radio in the studio as the song was recorded.
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LibraryThing member Clif
This play was discussed by the Great Books KC group of which I am a member. We also watched the movie "A Thousand Acres" to see another version of the plot. This story becomes more harrowing the older one becomes. It's a reminder that one's children don't always remain loyal. But then again, some
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parents do bad things or make unwise choices.
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LibraryThing member jaelmore
If I could only recommend one Shakespeare Play it would be King Lear.
LibraryThing member bradgers
When people want to rank Shakespeare's plays, usually Hamlet comes out as number one. This, in my experience, is the only other of his plays that I have seen mentioned as his greatest. If I were to rank his plays solely based upon their impact upon the world, I would probably agree with the usual
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placement of Hamlet as number one. However, were I to rank them based upon their impact on me, Lear gets the nod. Lear accurately and horrifyingly portrays the primal nature of man like few other works of literature; the only other to come to my mind is Lord of the Flies. Yet it's more than that; Lord of the Flies can afford to ignore the effects of sexual attraction and familial ties upon our nature, but Lear (the work, not the character) meets these head-on and uses them to devastating effect. This play alone would guarantee Shakespeare a place as one of the greatest English authors. With the rest of his body of work, there's no question that he is the greatest.
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LibraryThing member mais3477
What can I say about Shakespeare. He wrote a tragedy and I lived it through this book. Though reading such complicated manner of writing was a difficult task, I did not disturb my understanding of the story line. Since it is a tragedy, I was not a surprise to me that people died at the end, but the
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reason for which they died made me almost cry. One of the main themes of this tragedy is the bond between a father and a his offspring: King Lear and his daughters and Gloucester and his sons. Honesty and betrayal play an important role in the plot. I was socked by the behavior of the two daughters towards their father. They were mean to his just so they can get his kingdom. Although, Lear only wanted their love. I was a good read for sure and I can't wait until I will be able to discuss it with my classmates.
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LibraryThing member crazy4reading
Took me awhile to read this book due to life taking over my reading time. I also just wasn't interested in reading the play for awhile. The Tragedy of King Lear is a well written play by William Shakespeare. I have only read one other work by Shakespeare and that is Romeo and Juliet.

I enjoyed the
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story of King Lear, I just wish I had a better understanding of his English writing to fully understand Shakespeare's works.
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LibraryThing member cheme2005
This is my favorite of all of Shakespeare's works. Blood, death, and treachery. Who could ask for more!


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