The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0594 Wednesday, 3 March 2004
Date: Tuesday, 02 Mar 2004 09:44:18 -0500
Subject: Defects in King Lear
I appreciate Don's comments about Bradley, and I hate to look a gift
horse in the mouth, but appreciation of A. C. Bradley does not
automatically mean lack of appreciation for postmodern critics. Bradley
put forth a very powerful idea: that character counts, that it is
crucial to understanding drama. He was right. But the material
conditions found in the play (and in the audience) also count. Both are
worth keeping in mind.
I'm afraid I disagree with Robin. When Arthur Kirsch wrote, famously,
that Othello's problem is that "he has insufficient regard for himself,"
or when Olivier intoned at the start of Hamlet, "This is the tragedy of
a man who could not make up his mind," both are deeply indebted to A. C.
Bradley, the man who, nearly single-handedly, made such comments possible.
Getting back to Lear, we would go a long way towards deepening our
understanding of the play if we asked ourselves why so many of its
characters are guilty of a failure to acknowledge, in one way or
another. That would be the kind of seminal question that Bradley would
ask, in my opinion.
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