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
powerful when translated, suggesting that it is the story, in
large part, that draws us to the play.
The play tells us about families struggling between greed and
cruelty, on the one hand, and support and consolation, on the
other. Emotions are extreme, magnified to gigantic proportions.
We also see old age portrayed in all its vulnerability, pride,
and, perhaps, wisdom—one reason this most devastating of
Shakespeare’s tragedies is also perhaps his most moving.
The authoritative edition of King Lear from The Folger
Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare
series for students and general readers, includes:
-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of
-Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the
text of the play
-Scene-by-scene plot summaries
-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases
-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language
-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern
perspective on the play
-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings
of rare books
-An annotated guide to further reading
Essay by Susan Snyder
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the
world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a
magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In
addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year,
the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs.
For more information, visit Folger.edu.