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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: May ::
New and Improved Lear
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0892  Friday, 6 May 2005

[1]     From:   Alan J. Sanders <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 May 2005 12:54:41 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

[2]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 May 2005 18:08:42 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

[3]     From:   Colin Cox <
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        Date:   Thursday, 05 May 2005 10:37:44 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

[4]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 May 2005 18:43:51 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

[5]     From:   Norman Hinton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 05 May 2005 13:04:05 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

[6]     From:   Bruce Richman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 May 2005 13:13:45 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

[7]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 May 2005 17:21:20 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

[8]     From:   Martin Mueller <
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        Date:   Thursday, 05 May 2005 18:00:55 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

[9]     From:   Ruth Ross <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 May 2005 21:41:20 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

[10]     From:  Arthur Lindley <
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        Date:   Friday, 6 May 2005 12:26:17 +0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alan J. Sanders <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 May 2005 12:54:41 -0400
Subject: 16.0873 New and Improved Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

I believe you are a referring to the N. Tate version of "Lear".

More info can be found here:
http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=4317

Hope that helps!
Alan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 May 2005 18:08:42 +0100
Subject: 16.0873 New and Improved Lear
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

Dear Harvey

Check out: http://www.shaksper.net/archives/1999/1030.html

Dryden rewrote Troilus and Cressida in a similar 'improving' way.

Of course the end of the earlier quarto King Leir is quite happy (not to
mention also making sense of Cordelia's mistaken punishment) so it was
Shakespeare who put the down beat ending on what was a romance drama.

Personally I'm with Dryden on this - do we really need every artist to
turn art into a meaningless void?

Give me a good sing-a-long war any day!

Best,
Marcus 'Happy with Hasek' Dahl

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Thursday, 05 May 2005 10:37:44 -0700
Subject: 16.0873 New and Improved Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

"I cannot remember the particulars of a particularly odious rewrite of
Lear, in which he and Cordelia survived presumably to live happily ever
after."

Nahum Tate would be the producer and he presented his King Lear in 1681
at Dorset Garden with the comment "I have found a heap of jewels
unstrung and unpolished; yet so dazzling in their disorder that I soon
perceived I had seized a treasure."

He made three 'improvements':

1. Edgar and Cordelia were made lovers, thus the Restoration audience
got their obligatory hero love scene.

2. The Fool was removed as this character was too low for true tragedy.

3. Tate gave the play the 'needed' happy ending with Lear and Cordelia
both living and Cordelia marrying Edgar.

As to the reception, Tate's version was preferred for 150 years. Only
between 1768 and 1773 was another version used and that was the
adaptation of George Colman!! (Colman cut the Cordelia-Edgar tryst, he
also cut the Fool, he kept the happy ending).

It was Elliston and Kean who went some way to restoring Shakespeare's
Lear in 1826, but it was not until Macready, in 1838, that Will's play
was restored to its original.

Colin Cox

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 May 2005 18:43:51 +0100
Subject: 16.0873 New and Improved Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

 >A mind is a terrible thing to lose. I cannot remember the particulars of
 >a particularly odious rewrite of Lear, in which he and Cordelia survived
 >presumably to live happily ever after. I believe this occurred during
 >the 18th century, and may have been approved of by Dr. Samuel Johnson.
 >Assuming I am somewhat correct, can someone enlighten me as to the exact
 >time, place, producer, and reception of the rewrite by audience and
 >critic. Thanks in advance. Harvey Roy Greenberg, MD

It was the Nahum Tate Lear, nah?

             http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/tatelear.html

Robin

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Norman Hinton <
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Date:           Thursday, 05 May 2005 13:04:05 -0500
Subject: 16.0873 New and Improved Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

Nahum Tate (1681). Here is an on-line edition of the Tate King Lear:

http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/tatelear.html

 From his Introduction:

" 'Twas my good Fortune to light on one Expedient to rectifie what was
wanting in the Regularity and Probability of the Tale, which was to run
through the whole A Love betwixt Edgar and Cordelia, that never chang'd
word with each other in the Original. This renders Cordelia's
Indifference and her Father's Passion in the first Scene probable. It
likewise gives Countenance to Edgar's Disguise, making that a generous
Design that was before a poor Shift to save his Life. The Distress of
the Story is evidently heightned by it; and it particularly gave
Occasion of a New Scene or Two, of more Success (perhaps) than Merit.
This Method necessarily threw me on making the Tale conclude in a
Success to the innocent distrest Persons: Otherwise I must have
incumbred the Stage with dead Bodies, which Conduct makes many Tragedies
conclude with unseasonable Jests. Yet was I Rackt with no small Fears
for so bold a Change, till I found it well receiv'd by my Audience...."

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Richman <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 May 2005 13:13:45 -0500
Subject: 16.0873 New and Improved Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

Nahum Tate, 1652-1715, English Poet Laureate (1692 ff.) adapted Lear to
eliminate the tragic conclusion. Cordelia marries Edgar. Lear survives
and regains his throne. Tate's version was among the most successful of
all Shakespeare adaptations, and was regularly performed for more than
150 years. A discussion of the adaptation was begun in this group on
June 6, 1999 (SHK 10.1018).

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 May 2005 17:21:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 16.0873 New and Improved Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

As I'm sure many people will comment, this is Nahum Tate's Lear, in
which Cordelia not only survives, but marries her secret love Edgar, who
comes to her rescue. Tate comments in the introduction that he found the
play like a heap of unstrung jewels and felt compelled to put their
beauties in some order. I don't have the actual text here, but I do
remember that it was very well received and, I believe, ruled the stage
for a century.

Annalisa Castaldo
Assistant Professor of English
Widener University

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Mueller <
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Date:           Thursday, 05 May 2005 18:00:55 -0500
Subject: 16.0873 New and Improved Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

In virtually every other version of the Lear story, Cordelia helps her
father win back the throne, and they live, if not happily ever after, at
least for quite a while. Shakespeare changed this story and killed
Cordelia (just as in the Winter's Tale he brought Hermione back from the
dead).  This was in many ways an assault on the audience, and it is
intelligible that audiences (or writers on their behalf) responded with
indignation. The adaptation by Lee and Dryden, first performed in 1681,
I believe, held the stage well into the eighteenth century.

It may seem silly to us that they restored the original ending. But
their success is at the least a salutary reminder of just how much
Shakespeare went against the grain of audience expectations when he
killed Cordelia.

[9]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ruth Ross <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 May 2005 21:41:20 -0400
Subject: 16.0873 New and Improved Lear
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

Harvey,

I recall the author of this travesty -- Lear with a happy ending -- was
one Nahum Tate.

Ruth Ross

[10]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur Lindley <
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Date:           Friday, 6 May 2005 12:26:17 +0800
Subject: 16.0873 New and Improved Lear
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0873 New and Improved Lear

You seem to be thinking of Nahum Tate's adaptation.  Johnson found the
original ending 'unbearable'.

Arthur Lindley

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