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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
Lear's Illegitimate Son?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1851  Thursday, 10 November 2005

From: 		Arnie Perlstein <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 9 Nov 2005 16:12:20 -0500
Subject: 	Lear's Illegitimate Son?

A wild thought invaded my head last night. To wit, has it ever been 
suggested that Edmund might really have been King Lear's illegitimate 
son (sired on Gloucester's wife in a moment of regal privilege)? And 
that Gloucester either never knew it, or looked the other way? And that 
Edmund may not have known it, but felt it somehow?

It was something in the callous way that Gloucester jokes with Kent at 
the very beginning of the play that made me wonder. It would lend an 
entire layer of irony to the action of the play if it were so, in terms 
of rendering Edmund's flirtations with Goneril and Regan incestuous, and 
in terms of how Edmund is instrumental in Lear's tragic downfall.

Anyway, have any of you ever heard this wild idea previously expressed? 
  I just spent a short time trying to find out if it had ever entered 
anyone else's, and the closest I saw was an article from a while back by 
William B.  Bache, which suggested that Albany might have been Lear's 
illegitimate son.

Arnie Perlstein
Weston, Florida

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