King Lear

King Lear


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Shakespeare’s King Lear challenges us with the magnitude, intensity, and sheer duration of the pain that it represents. Its figures harden their hearts, engage in violence, or try to alleviate the suffering of others. Lear himself rages until his sanity cracks. What, then, keeps bringing us back to King Lear? For all the force of its language, King Lear is almost equally powerful when translated, suggesting that it is the story, in large part, that draws us to the play.

The play tells us about families struggling between greed and cruelty, on the one hand, and support and consolation, on the other. Emotions are extreme, magnified to gigantic proportions. We also see old age portrayed in all its vulnerability, pride, and, perhaps, wisdom—one reason this most devastating of Shakespeare’s tragedies is also perhaps his most moving.

The authoritative edition of King Lear from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:

-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

-Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

-Scene-by-scene plot summaries

-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases

-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language

-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books

-An annotated guide to further reading

Essay by Susan Snyder

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit

Title:King Lear
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    King Lear Reviews

  • Bill Kerwin

    I've read Lear many times, and, although I didn't learn much about the play this reading, I did learn a little about myself. I have always loved the play, but in the past I found its injustice and evi...

  • Ahmad Sharabiani

    King Lear, William ShakespeareKing Lear is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. It depicts the gradual descent into madness of the title character, after he disposes of his kingdom giving bequest...

  • Amit Mishra

    King Lear can be read in various ways - as a theological drama, as a philosophical one, as a supreme example of Shakespeare's intuitive egalitarianism or even as a melodrama lifted towards tragedy onl...

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    “Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.” There is a hope, of course, for many of us to become wiser as we become older. In most cases, this does work, but sometimes we exchange...

  • Henry Avila

    "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child"...Good King Lear, feared in his younger days, has two, in pagan Britain, the inhabitants worship the numerous gods, there, hundreds...

  • Dolors

    My first encounter with Shakespeare has totally swept me off my feet. As much as I had heard of the indisputable grandeur of the most famous playwright of all times I never expected to be so immersed ...

  • Amalia Gkavea

    “When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.” “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,when we are sick in fortune,--often the surfeitof our own behavi...

  • Lisa

    In times of change, stress or general uneasiness, I find myself repeatedly quoting Shakespeare.There is something soothing in the knowledge that he wrote all those unforgettable lines over 400 years a...

  • Michael Finocchiaro

    If I were to assign a Shakespearean tragedy to one of each of the thresh metal Big Four, I would do so thus:- Anthrax would be Hamlet due to the many changes in personnel and the mixture of genres tha...

  • Manny

    I was lucky enough to be living in Stockholm when Ingmar Bergman staged Lear at the Swedish National Theatre in the late 80s, and I saw it twice. Bergman's take on the play was very interesting and un...