The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1851 Thursday, 10 November 2005
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
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