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King Lear

The Lost Leader; Group Disintegration, Transformation and Suspended Reconsolidation

Dennis Brown

King Lear (1605–6) is the primary enactment of psychic breakdown in English literary history. It constitutes, also, the most spectacular instance of a controlled explosion of the formal ‘container’ in Western drama – such that it not only violated whatever Aristotle or Boileau might have to offer on the proper structure of tragedy but provoked, too, the very different sensibilities of Dr Johnson and Count Tolstoy. Set in its raw pre-Christian world, the play remains the major Shakespearean rebuttal of Sophoclean fearful symmetry (Oedipus Rex) – corrosive in its existential negativity, yet paradoxically fructive in spawning such twentieth-century ‘countertransferential’ progeny as George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House, Samuel Beckett’s Endgame or Edward Bond’s Lear. Keats, on rereading it wrote about the ‘bitter-sweet’ of being ‘consumèd in the fire’, with all the intensity of one closely associated with ‘Consumption’.

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Roger Stritmatter and Lynne Kositsky

Gary Taylor's 1982 Review of English Studies article, 'A New Source and an Old Date for King Lear', highlights numerous semantic, thematic and structural parallels between Shakespeare's King Lear, customarily assigned a composition date in late 1605 or spring 1606, and Eastward Ho (first published September 1605). Deconstructing Taylor's methodology for determining the order of influence between the two plays, we argue that the authors of Eastward Ho found the bard's cosmic tragedy of royal intrigue and intergenerational strife an irresistible target for rambunctious topical satire. In place of a Lear that without motive incorporates vague patches of Eastward Ho influence, we read an Eastward Ho that enacts an acerbically brilliant parody of several Shakespeare plays, among them King Lear.

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Mehrdad Bidgoli

Scepticism about Lear's ethical turning point in William Shakespeare's King Lear (1606) is an oblique but prevalent issue in the recent ethically attuned readings of this highly controversial tragedy. But it appears that critics are reluctant to

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‘Abd al-Raḥīm Kamāl’s Dahsha

An Upper Egyptian Lear

Noha Mohamad Mohamad Ibraheem

consequences both for him and for his cherished youngest. This is the plot of the 2014 Egyptian television series Dahsha (Perplexity), an adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear in Ṣaʿīdī (Upper Egyptian) dialect, written by ʿAbd al-Raḥīm Kamāl and directed

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Egypt between Two Shakespeare Quadricentennials 1964–2016

Reflective Remarks in Three Snapshots

Hazem Azmy

read the events that led to the 25 January revolution and its subsequent complications through the lens of King Lear . For an illustration of this statement one needs to go no futher than the example of the National Theatre’s blockbuster 2002

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Keith Jones

. The novel opens with an actor putting on King Lear – and dying from a heart attack in the middle of Act IV, Scene VI. That night, a devastating pandemic (the Georgia flu) arrives in America. It sweeps across America and around the world, killing

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Bringing Lebanon’s Civil War Home to Anglophone Literature

Alameddine’s Appropriation of Shakespeare’s Tragedies

Yousef Awad

the conflict. This article explores the ways in which, in these two novels, Alameddine draws attention to Shakespeare’s representation of traumatic events in Macbeth and King Lear and links it to his own depiction of his nation’s tragic domestic

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James Walton

Part one of this article examines a species of 'figural' plot - single episodes that mirror a substantial part of the narrative that contains it. These include Portia's predicament in The Merchant of Venice as interpreted by Freud, together with comparable choices encountered by King Lear, Sir Thomas Bertram in Mansfield Park, Brontë's Rochester, and Richardson's Pamela. In each case the subject must break free of conventional authority in order to choose wisely. The beginning of Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man directly confronts a patriarchal plot, establishing the artist's 'opposing' fiction against the received one. Part II considers the way in which Dickens situates himself in relation to external authority, bringing about the defeat of a series of spurious 'authors' in the struggle to determine Oliver Twist's identity before renouncing in a Prospero gesture his own claim to authority.

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The Nature of Gender

Are Juliet, Desdemona and Cordelia to their Fathers as Nature is to Culture?

Gordana Galić Kakkonen and Ana Penjak

This article brings ecofeminist critical thinking to William Shakespeare's female characters: Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Desdemona in Othello, and Cordelia in King Lear. Beginning with the principal that women and nature are similar in many ways (reproductive function, discrimination, subordination, possession, violence), ecofeminism focuses on the interaction between the two. Ecofeminism grounds its beliefs in the fact that patriarchal domination gets imposed through different binary oppositions including man-woman and culture-nature categories. By applying ecofeminism's positions, the authors will provide a critical thinking of the production of socially imposed inequalities seen through Juliet, Desdemona, and Cordelia. Since out of many different publications on the topic of ecofeminism none has provided such an approach, the authors believe that the article presents an important addition to the literature on both Shakespeare and ecofeminism.

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Reading Between the Sheets

Letters in Shakespearean Tragedy

Lisa Hopkins

When A.C. Bradley came to write about King Lear in his book on Shakespeare’s tragedies, what annoyed him most about the play was what he considered the patently absurd fact that Edgar is supposed to have written Edmund a letter when they were both living in the same castle. That Edmund should have pretended anything so asinine, and, worse still, that Gloucester should have believed it, both seemed to Bradley utterly beyond belief. Approaches to reading Shakespeare’s plays have of course moved on in leaps and bounds in the days since Bradley, but, even so, I want to argue that we may still miss some of the meanings of the very frequent use of letters in Renaissance plays, and particularly those in Shakespeare’s four major tragedies. Letters sprinkle the drama in extraordinary abundance – the word ‘letter’ occurs thirty-three times in King Lear alone – and often occur at moments of particularly heightened significance, as when Lady Macbeth in her sleep repeatedly writes and seals a letter which neither we nor the characters ever discover the contents of. They frequently serve a vital role in plot development, particularly in the uncovering of hidden truths, and occasionally, as when Edmund makes such an issue of ostensibly wanting to conceal the supposed letter from Edgar about his person, they become in themselves significant dramatic properties in ways which seem almost to foreshadow Pamela and Clarissa. What I want to focus on here, though, is not so much the plot function of the letter as its rôle as discourse, and, in particular, its tonal and status relationship to other kinds of discourse in the drama.