The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1776  Thursday, 11 September 2003

From:           Rolland Banker <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 10 Sep 2003 05:51:45 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Lear as Prophet?
Comment:        SHK 14.1763 Lear as Prophet?

I see your points and tend to agree as I now recognize that you are
approaching the question from academe, while I approach from a general
'Romantic' reader's grove of enthusiasm (and it's wild out here!), hence
I like the anachronism of prophet and prophecy and its imprecatory
nature--and I guess I want to intuit a new meaning myself for prophecy
and a nihilistic aesthetic of the term(but that's just me):

Hamlet IV.iv 59

I see the imminent death of twenty thousand men,
That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,....

So says a solitary meditative Hamlet. I don't think madness made him a
prophet in this instance.

Everybody, actors, characters, and real people, it seems to me, could be
prophets in the sense of seeing the future; some are just wrong--there
are false, deluded prophets too; in the Christian biblical sense all
believers in the new dispensation could be prophets.

As for the Blakean prophetic sense, I would be lost in that
contradictory jungle of scholarship as Camille Paglia calls it. Besides,
she said, Blake was a strange combination of artist and Hebrew
prophet--differing from Lear's paganism. Although they both issued
imprecations against nature and society which is another sense of

But as I reach the intellectual limits of what Shakespeare has given me
till now, I will pull out a
couple quotes, reading Hazlitt I came across this from Beau Brummel:

A sound so fine,
That nothing lived twixt it and silence.

Although it was intended for a humorous purpose it segues nicely into a
G. Wilson Knight quote, of course, from the Wheel of Fire, King Lear and
the Comedy of the Grotesque:

"Perhaps humor, too, is inwoven in the universal pain, and the enigmatic
silence holds not only an
unutterable sympathy, but also the ripples of an impossible laughter
whose flight is not for the wing
of human understanding; and perhaps it is this that casts its darting
shadow of the grotesque across the furrowed pages of King Lear." pg 199

That fine sound, that sheer shadow, is the prophesy of Lear.

Next time I had better leave this type of query for the scholars. Yikes.

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