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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Lear
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1295  Thursday, 17 June 2004

[1]     From:   Donald Jellerson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jun 2004 10:50:49 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1281 Lear

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jun 2004 13:58:07 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1281 Lear

[3]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jun 2004 15:01:08 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1281 Lear


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Donald Jellerson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jun 2004 10:50:49 -0700
Subject: 15.1281 Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1281 Lear

Scott Sharplin writes:

 >This is related to a topic I am currently exploring. Do others agree
 >that Lear is "too big" to be adequately captured, whether on stage or on
 >film?
 >What about scholarly editions of Lear (eg. Arden 3, or the Cambridge
 >Lear CD-ROM) which try to conflate (or juxtapose) different print
 >editions of the play? Is there any way we can arrive at a definitive
 >text? Or is Lear too big to fit on the page as well?

I believe there is an answer, Mr. Sharplin, in the bare fact that there
are libraries full of argument around what is 'definitively'
Shakespeare, just as there are scads of compelling interpretations.  But
I don't want to argue about that here.  I'd like to suggest an excellent
book on the subject of definitive Shakespearean texts (or the lack
thereof): "Unediting the Renaissance" by Leah Marcus (1996).

Though she is dealing with Shakespearean plays other than Lear,
Professor Marcus addresses the kind of questions Mr. Sharplin's asks,
and, perhaps more importantly, raises the immediate corollary: what is
the value of (what is at stake in) our quest for the "definitive text."

Regards,
Donald Jellerson

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jun 2004 13:58:07 -0400
Subject: 15.1281 Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1281 Lear

 >Hordern, indeed.  Bravo!  And he was rather good as Marley's ghost in
 >the Alister Simm version of "A Christmas Carol."

He was also a brilliant Capulet in the BBC R&J.  But his Prospero fell flat.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jun 2004 15:01:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.1281 Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1281 Lear

 >This is related to a topic I am currently exploring. Do others agree
 >that Lear is "too big" to be adequately captured, whether on stage or on
 >film?

No, I don't quite agree. What must it have seemed in its first performances?

I don't remember where I nicked this from, but here are a few comments
from Jonathan Miller, the director of a recent Lear with Christopher
Plummer:

Q: Harold Bloom says that King Lear defies contemporary staging.
A: That's nonsense. There are two things which are slightly disturbing
or awkward about Lear-the blinding of Gloucester, which people sometimes
think they can't bear to see, and the storm. Storms are not easy to do,
especially on a thrust stage like the Beaumont's. But Bloom is not the
first to say it's difficult to stage.

Q: Charles Lamb famously held this view.
A: Something else the play acquired in Lamb's period is the notion that
Lear is a cosmic play. This is a deep misunderstanding. It's an
extremely domestic play. Simply because there are five minutes of
thunder, people think it's cosmic. The characters are not up against the
cosmos; they're up against each other. It's about social disorder, which
follows from the disappearance of authority, an authority we may no
longer have time for-the absolute power of monarchy. The play isn't
cosmic. It's social and political, and intensely domestic.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

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