The Prince as a centaur:
“He says that the ancients understood state craft better, when they figured The Prince as a centaur. The centaur is half man and half beast, and that’s what it is to understand state craft. Manly virtue will never be enough, you’ve got to be ready for beastliness, and the centaur is half beast. Now, that is presented directly as a satire of Cicero.”- Prof. Skinner
Cicero: the fox and the lion
“Cicero had said, ‘Force is beastly and is to be avoided, that is simply the lion. Fraud is beastly and that is to be avoided, that is simply the fox’. And Machiavelli says, ‘Since you need to know how to be beastly, you had better know which particular beasts to imitate, and then in the most famous phrase in the book he says, ‘Those who have done best as princes in our time have known how to imitate the lion and the fox’.” – Prof. Skinner
‘You’re going to have to cheat, you must do your best to appear not to be cheating’, and that again is satirical in respect of Cicero’s De Officiis, because one of the things which Cicero keeps telling us is, ‘Fraud will always be found out. So you cannot gain true glory by pretence’, I’m now quoting Cicero, ‘because your pretences will always find you out’ And that becomes a biblical thought too. ‘Be sure your sins will find you out’. Now, one of the most important things that Machiavelli wants to tell The Prince is not to worry about that, because it’s not true. And he’s very keen on the fact that The Prince is not performing his politics in republican conditions. In republican conditions, you’re out in the piazza, everyone has a vote, it’s all public. People are watching you. You’ve only been elected, their turn will come, it’s a communal activity, everything is in the bright light of day. It’s not so for The Prince.” – Prof. Skinner
From Chapters 15-24 “‘Be courageously evil where it’s necessary to be evil, but otherwise follow what people regard as the virtues as much as possible. Because if you don’t, they’ll hate you, and if they hate you, you’re in trouble’. -Prof. Skinner
See Shakespeare’s Iago
The Prince as a critique of Seneca‘s ‘De Clementia’, ‘De Beneficiis’ ‘concerning benefits’, and Cicero’s De Officiis, Concerning One’s Offices.
Essarai non buono
“Machiavelli does himself say at one point in Chapter 15 – this pivotal and notorious chapter where he introduces the virtuoso prince who is not always virtuous. He says ‘I’m teaching you that sometimes you must learn, how not to be good’, and it’s interesting he doesn’t say there, virtuoso, he says buono, a good person. ‘Essarai non buono’ – how not to be a good person.”” – Prof. Skinner
Salus populi suprema lex esto (The health of the people should be the supreme law) from Cicero’s De Legibus.
Machiavellian morality vs. Christian morality and classical morality.
“If you’re a prince, you need to go against conventional Christian or classical morality, if you’re an ordinary person, perhaps, you may want to carry on according to Christian or classical morality.” -Prof. Skinner
Isaiah Berlin’s essay The Originality of Machiavelli
Thoreau, Henry David., and Michael Meyer. Walden and Civil Disobedience. NY: Penguin, 1983. Print.
Walden first published 1854.
Civil Disobedience first published 1849.
Shakespeare, William, and Stanley Wells. The History of King Lear. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.
CORDELIA (aside) Then poor Cordelia-
And yet not so, since I am sure my love’s
More richer than my tongue.
Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly
When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do, old man?
Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour’s
When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom,
And in thy best consideration check
This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgement,
Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least,
Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
Reverbs no hollowness
line 135-line 144
See Dent V36
Henry the VIII “I did never know so full a voice issue from so empty a heart.” p. 107
“The empty vessel makes the greatest sound.” p. 108
GLOUCESTER These late exlipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of nature can reason thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects. Love cools, frienship falls off, brothers divide; in cities mutinies, in countries discords, palaces treason, the bond cracked between son and father. Find out this villain, Edmund; it shall lose thee nothing. Do it carefully. And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished, his offence honesty! Strange, strange!
EDMUND this is excellent foppery of the world: that when we are sick in fortune-often the surfeit of our own behaviour-we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars, as if we were villains by necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thievesm abd treacherers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence, and all that we are evil in by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of stars!
My father compounded with my mother under the Dragon’s tail and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and lecherous. Fut! I should have been that I am had the maidenliest star of the firmament twinkled on my bastardy. Edgar…
EDMUND I do serve you in this business. Exit Edgar
A credulous father, and a brother noble,
Whose nature is so far from doing harms
That he suspects none; o whose follish honesty
My practice ride easy. I see the business.
Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit.
All with me’s meet that I can fashion fit. Exit
LEAR A pestilent gall to me!
FOOL [to Kent] Sirrah, I’ll teach thee a speech.
FOOL Mark it, uncle
Have more than thou showest
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend less than thou owest,
Ride more than thou goest,
Learn more than thou trowest,
Set less than thou throwest,
Leave thy drink and thy whore,
And keep in-a-door,
And thou shalt have more
Than two tens to a score.
FOOL Dost know the differnce, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet fool?
LEAR No, lad. Teach me.
FOOL [sings] That lord that counselled thee
To give away thy land,
Come, place him here by me;
Do thou for him stand.
The sweet and bitter fool
Will presently appear,
The one in motley here,
The other found out there.
LEAR Dost thou call me fool, boy?
Fool (to Lear) For, you trow, nuncle,
The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long
That it had it head bit off by it young;
so out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
Now I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad.
I will not trouble thee, my child. Farewell.
We’ll no more meet, no more see one another.
But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter-
Or rather a disease that lies within my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a boil,
A plague-sore, and embossed carbuncle
In my corrupted blood. But I’ll not chide thee.
Let shame come when it will, I don not call it.
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove.
Mend when thou canst; be better at thy leisure.
I can be patient, I can stay with Regan,
I and my hundred knights.
See’t shalt thou never.-Fellows, hold the chair.-
Upon those eyes of thine I’ll set my foot.
He that will think to live till he be old
Give me some help!-O cruel! O ye gods!
[Cornwall puts out one of Gloucester’s eyes and stampt on it]
SERVANT (to Gloucester)
O, I am slain, my lord! Yet have you one eye left
To see more mischief on him.
[Regan stabs him again]
O! He dies
Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vile jelly!
He [puts out] Gloucester’s other eye
Where is thy lustre now?
All dark and comfortless. Where’s my son Edmund?
Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature
To quite this horrid act.
Go thou. I’ll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
To apply to his bleeding face. Now heaven help him!
‘Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind.
DO as I bid thee; or rather do thy pleasure.
Above the rest, be gone.
Enter King Lear mad, [crowned with weeds and flowers]
before line 80
LEAR Ha, Gonoril! Ha, Regan! They flattered me like a dog,
and told me I had white hairs in my beard ere the black
ones were there. To say ‘ay’ and ‘no’ to everything I said
‘ay’ and ‘no’ to was no good divinity. When the rain
came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter,
when the thunder would not peace at my bidding, there I
found them, there I smelt them out. Go to, they are not
men of their words. They told me I was everything; ’tis a
lie, I am not ague-proof.
The trick of that voice I do well remember.
Is’t not the King?
LEAR Ay, every inch a king.
With a more riotus appetite. Down from the waist
They’re centaurs, though women all above.
But to the girdle do the gods inherit;
Beneath is all the fiend’s. There’s hell, there’s
There’s the sulphury put, burning, scalding,
Stench, consummation. Fie, fie, fie; pah, pah!
LEAR I remember thy eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny
No, do thy worst, blind Cupid, I’ll not love.
Read thou that challenge. Mark the penning of ‘t.
Were all the letters suns, I could not see one.
LEAR [removing his crown of weeds]
When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools. This’ a good block.
Note on page 243:
“Edgar with his staff, Oswald with his sword or rapier and dagger… ‘the staff-man never striketh but at the head, and thrusteth presently under at the body; and if a blow be first made, a thrust followeth'; the aim that is, is to cause the opponent to protect his head and then swiftly to attack his body before he can bring his arms down.”
LEAR You do me wrong to take me out o’th’ grave.
Thou art a soul in bliss, but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
Do scald like molten lead.
CORDELIA Sir, know me.
Be your tears wet? Yes, faith. I pray, weep not.
If you have poison for me, I will drink it.
I know you do not love; for your sisters
Have, as I do remember, done me wrong.
You have a cause; they have not.
CORDELIA No cause, no cause.
Jesters do oft prove prophets.
Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones.
Had I your tongues and eyes, I would use them so
That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone for ever.
I know when one is dead and when one lives.
She’s dead as earth.
And my poor fool is hanged. No, no life.
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
And thou no breath at all? O, thou wilt come no more.
Never, never, never.-Pray you, undo
This button. Thank you, sir. O, O, O, O!
EDGAR He faints. (To Lear) My lord, my lord!
LEAR Break, heart, I prithee break.
EDGAR Look up, my lord.
Vex not his ghost. O, let him pass. He hates him
That would upon the rack of this tough world
Stretch him out longer.
EDGAR O, he is gone indeed.
To read: Kermode, Frank, ed., Shakespeare: ‘King Lear’, A Casebook (1969) includes essay by George Orwell
See Grande Ouverture du Roi Léar, Opus 4, by Hector Berlioz
Oxford World’s Classics
John Milton’s Selected Poetry
Henry of Huntingdon’s The History of the English People 1000-1154
The Ballad of King Lear
Perrett “And to thousands of children it tells Cordelia’s pathetic story when Shakespeare is a mere name, and conveys some inkling of a different morality from that which is inculcated by the customary materialism of a golden crown to reward the Beautiful.” p. 279
A lamentable Song of the Death of King Leir and his Three Daughters
King Lear once rulèd in this land
With princely power and peace;
And had all things with hearts content,
That might his joys increase.
Amongst those things that nature gave,
Three daughters fair had he,
So princely seeming beautiful,
As fairer could not be.
So on a time it pleas’d the king
A question thus to move,
Which of his daughters to his grace
Could shew the dearest love:
“For to my age you bring content,”
Quoth he, “then let me hear,
Which of you three in plighted troth
The kindest will appear.”
To whom the eldest thus began;
“Dear father, mind,” quoth she,
“Before your face, to do you good,
My blood shall render’d be
And for your sake my bleeding heart
Shall here be cut in twain,
Ere that I see your reverend age
The smallest grief sustain.”
“And so will I,” the second said;
“Dear father, for your sake,
The worst of all extremities
I’ll gently undertake:
And serve your highness night and day
With diligence and love;
That sweet content and quietness
Discomforts may remove.”
“In doing so, you glad my soul,”
The aged king reply’d;
“But what sayst thou, my youngest girl,
How is thy love ally’d?”
“My love” (quoth young Cordelia then)
“Which to your grace I owe,
Shall be the duty of a child,
And that is all I’ll show.”
“And wilt thou shew no more,” quoth he,
“Than doth thy duty bind?
I well perceive thy love is small,
When as no more I find.
Henceforth I banish thee my court,
Thou art no child of mine;
Nor any part of this my realm
By favour shall be thine.
“Thy elder sisters loves are more
Then well I can demand;
To whom I equally bestow
My kingdome and my land,
My pompal state and all my goods,
That lovingly I may
With those thy sisters be maintain’d
Until my dying day.”
Thus flattering speeches won renown,
By these two sisters here;
The third had causeless banishment,
Yet was her love more dear:
For poor Cordelia patiently
Went wandring up and down,
Unhelp’d, unpity’d, gentle maid,
Through many an English town:
Untill at last in famous France
She gentler fortunes found;
Though poor and bare, yet she was deem’d
The fairest on the ground:
Where when the king her virtues heard,
And this fair lady seen,
With full consent of all his court
He made his wife and queen.
Her father king Leir this while
With his two daughters staid:
Forgetful of their promis’d loves,
Full soon the same decay’d;
And living in queen Ragan’s court,
The eldest of the twain,
She took from him his chiefest means,
And most of all his train.
For whereas twenty men were wont
To wait with bended knee:
She gave allowance but to ten,
And after scarce to three;
Nay, one she thought too much for him;
So took she all away,
In hope that in her court, good king,
He would no longer stay.
“Am I rewarded thus,” quoth he,
“In giving all I have
Unto my children, and to beg
For what I lately gave?
I’ll go unto my Gonorell:
My second child, I know,
Will be more kind and pitiful,
And will relieve my woe.”
Full fast he hies then to her court;
Where when she heard his moan
Return’d him answer, that she griev’d
That all his means were gone:
But no way could relieve his wants;
Yet if that he would stay
Within her kitchen, he should have
What scullions gave away.
When he had heard, with bitter tears,
He made his answer then;
“In what I did let me be made
Example to all men.
I will return again,” quoth he,
“Unto my Ragan’s court;
She will not use me thus, I hope,
But in a kinder sort.”
Where when he came, she gave command
To drive him thence away:
When he was well within her court
(She said) he would not stay.
Then back again to Gonorell
The woeful king did hie,
That in her kitchen he might have
What scullion boys set by.
But there of that he was deny’d,
Which she had promis’d late:
For once refusing, he should not
Come after to her gate.
Thus twixt his daughters, for relief
He wandred up and down;
Being glad to feed on beggars food,
That lately wore a crown.
And calling to remembrance then
His youngest daughters words,
That said the duty of a child
Was all that love affords:
But doubting to repair to her,
Whom he had banish’d so,
Grew frantick mad; for in his mind
He bore the wounds of woe:
Which made him rend his milk-white locks,
And tresses from his head,
And all with blood bestain his cheeks,
With age and honour spread.
To hills and woods and watry founts
He made his hourly moan,
Till hills and woods and sensless things,
Did seem to sigh and groan.
Even thus possest with discontents,
He passed o’re to France,
In hopes from fair Cordelia there,
To find some gentler chance;
Most virtuous dame! which when she heard,
Of this her father’s grief,
As duty bound, she quickly sent
Him comfort and relief:
And by a train of noble peers,
In brave and gallant sort,
She gave in charge he should be brought
To Aganippus’ court;
Whose royal king, with noble mind
So freely gave consent,
To muster up his knights at arms,
To fame and courage bent.
And so to England came with speed,
To repossesse king Leir
And drive his daughters from their thrones
By his Cordelia dear.
Where she, true-hearted noble queen,
Was in the battel slain;
Yet he, good king, in his old days,
Possest his crown again.
But when he heard Cordelia’s death,
Who died indeed for love
Of her dear father, in whose cause
She did this battle move;
He swooning fell upon her breast,
From whence he never parted:
But on her bosom left his life,
That was so truly hearted.
The lords and nobles when they saw
The end of these events,
The other sisters unto death
They doomed by consents;
And being dead, their crowns they left
Unto the next of kin:
Thus have you seen the fall of pride,
And disobedient sin.
Watched Obama’s Farewell Speech:
Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.
In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.
We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.
It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.
Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.
Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print. (First Ed. 1958).
“Or the discovery of a demented and glacial universe where to be in-human was human, where disciplined, educated men in uniform came to kill, and innocent children and weary old men came to die?” p ix
“We believed in God, trusted in man, and lived with the illusion that every one of us has been entrusted with a sacred spark from the Shekhinah’s flame; that every one of us carries in his eyes and in his soul a reflection of God’s image.” p. x-xi
“To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” p. xv
Moishe the Beadle “He spoke little. He sang, or rather he chanted, and the few snatches I caught here and there spoke of divine suffering, of the Shekhinah in Exile, where according to Kabbalah, it awaits its redemption linked to that of man.” p. 3
“One day I asked my father to find me a master who could guide me in my studies of Kabbalah. “You are too young for that. Maimonides tells us that one must be thirty before venturing into the world of mysticism, a world fraught with peril. First you must study the basic subjects, those you are able to comprehend.” p. 4
Moishe “explained to me, with great emphasis, that every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer…” p. 4-5.
“Man comes closer to God thought the questions he asks Him, he liked to say. Therein lies true dialogue. Man asks and God replies. But we don’t understand His replies. We cannot understand them. Because they dwell in the depths of our souls and remain there until we die. The real answers, Eliezer, you will find only within yourself.” p. 5
“There are a thousand and one gates allowing entry into the orchard of mystical truth. Every human being has his own gate. He must not err and wish to enter the orchard through a gate other than his own.” p. 5
“In front of us, those flames. In the air, the smell of burning flesh. It must have been around midnight. We had arrived. In Birkenau.” p. 28
“I didn’t know this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever. I kept walking, my father holding my hand.” p. 29
“NEVER SHALL I FORGET that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.
Never.” p. 34
“But no sooner had we taken a few more steps than we saw the barbed wire of another camp. This one had an iron gate with the overhead inscription: ARBEIT MACHT FREI. Work makes you free.
Auschwitz.” p. 40
“Have faith in life, a thousand times faith. By driving out despair, you will move away from death. Hell does not last forever…” p. 41
“But there were those who said we should fast, precisely because it was dangerous to do so. We needed to show God that even here, locked in hell, we were capable of singing His praises.” p. 69
“”Perhaps someone here has seen my son?”
He had lost his son in the commotion. He had searched for him among the dying, to no avail. Then he had dug through the snow to find his body. In vain.” p. 90
“”No, Rabbi Eliahu, I haven’t seen him.”
And so he left, as he had come: a shadow swept away by the wind.” p. 91
“A terrible thought crossed my mind: What if he had wanted to be rid of his father? He had felt his father growing weaker and, believing that the end was near, had thought by this separation to free himself of a burden that could diminish his own chance for survival… “Oh God, Master of the Universe, give me the strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahu’s son has done.” p. 91
“When at last a grayinsh light appeared on the horizon, it revealed a tangle of human shapes, heads sunk deeply between shoulders, crouching, piled one on top of the other, like a cemetery covered with snow. In the early dawn light, I tried to distinguish between the living and those who were no more. But there was barely a difference.” p. 98
“I gave him what was left of my soup. But my heart was heavy. I was aware that I was doing it grudgingly.
Just like Rabbi Eliahu’s son, I had not passed the test.” p. 107
“All of a sudden, he sat up and placed his feverish lips against my ear:
“Eliezer… I must tell you where I buried the gold and silver…In the cellar… You know…”” p. 108
“No prayers were said over his tomb. No candle lit in his memory. His last word had been my name. He had called out to me and I had not answered.” p. 112
“I had not seen myself since the ghetto.
From the depth of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me.” p. 115
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
“Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.” p. 118
“We must take sides Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When himan lives are endangered, when himan dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.” p. 118
from books-and-movies-that-influenced-the-writing-of-suttree thread at http://www.cormacmccarthy.com
Sut Lovingood: Yarns Spun By a Nat’ral Born Durn’d Fool
The Neon Wilderness and A Walk on the Wild Side
(Henry Louis Mencken) See The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (1907)
Scopes Trial (1925)
The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes/The Scopes Monkey Trial and Tennessee’s Butler Act. (On human evolution)
Shakespeare, William, and Stanley Wells. The History of King Lear. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.
Prometheus Vinctus by Aeschylus
Introduction by Stanley Wells
“The folio is, after all, a derivative, adapted, and edited text.” p. 8
“Muir, however, notes eclipses of both sun and moon in 1601 ‘that would still be remembered by the audience’, and there was a partial eclipse of the moon in May 1603.” p. 12
“Titus Andronicus he had already portrayed an elderly tyrant who goes mad” p. 14
The Theme of the Three Caskets by Sigmund Freud
“proposes that the opening scene is based on an ancient myth of a man’s having to choose among three women, the third one represents death. footnote p. 16
“written by the learned and imaginative monk Geoffrey of Monmouth” p. 17
“Aganippus raised an army to restore him to his kingdom; they succeeded, and three years later Lear died. (By this time he must have been very old indeed.) Cordeilla, widowed, buried her father at Leicester. Some years later her nephews rebelled against her, captured her, and put her in prison, where she committed suicide.” p. 17
Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney
“In reading it, Shakespeare must have been struck by the relation between the Lear story and the episodes in Arcadia telling of a Paphlagonian king deposed and blinded by a wicked, illegitimate son but cherished by the natural son whom, under the influence of the bastard, he has cast off with orders-not obeyed-that he be killed.” p. 26
“Shakespeare is indebted to Arcadia for plot motifs and atmospheric effects rather than for language.” p. 26
“The Bible exerted a strong influence, even though Shakespeare has been at pains to locate his action in a non-Christian, pagan society; indeed, both the Book of Job and the parable of the Prodigal Son have been regarded as deep sources of the play.” p. 29
George Orwell essay: Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool.” p. 32
Tolstoy on Shakespeare wikipedia article
“It might on the contrary be argued that Shakespeare’s opening scene is a masterpiece of dramatic exposition-almost a little play in its own right-and that its reduction and simplification of motive is one of the ways in which it establishes a mode in which symbol and emblem will have as important a part to play as psychological verisimilitude.” p. 33
Michael Gambon playing the Fool “That weekend I hurried to London Zoo to watch the chimps and became even more convinced that they had all the requisite qualities for the Fool-manic comic energy when in action, a disturbing sadness when in repose.” p. 42
“But the suffering diminishes when madness comes upon him. As Gloucester is to realize later in the play, madness can bring relief from suffering.” p. 45
footnote Howard Felperin “takes a contrary view: Gloucester ‘naïvely wishes he could go made like Lear, mistaking madness for a protection against pain when it is in fact an exposure to it.” p. 45
“Suffering teaches both men how they have misvalued their offspring, and leads them to acknowledge their own faults and to express humility.” p. 46
literary context of ‘bound upon a wheel of fire‘ p.47
“To its early audiences, the language of King Lear must have seemed very strange, as original in its day as that of James Joyce or Dylan Thomas in theirs.” p. 53
Margreta de Grazia “the play itself goes to extremes, pushing beyond the bounds of tragedy, particularly in its superfluous addition of Cordelia’s death.” p. 53
“What Tate did to Shakespeare was not essentially different from what Shakespeare had done to King Leir: Shakespeare had turned an old tragicomedy into a tragedy, Tate reversed the process. In doing do created a new, different play which, critics have increasingly argued, has its own artistic validity.” p. 62
King Leir play
Nahum Tate‘s King Lear adaptation
“But at the time Tate wrote, Shakespeare was not thought of as an immortal classic, but as a dramatist whose works, however admirable, required adaptation to fit them for the new theatrical and social circumstances of the time, as well as to changes in taste.” p. 62
Tate’s play “supplanted Shakespeare’s play in every performance given from 1681 to 1838.” p. 63
See John Runciman (1744-68), King Lear in the Storm (1767)
See Alexander Runciman (1736-85) King Lear on the Heath (1767)
“Barker insists that the storm is not in itself ‘dramatically important, only in its effect upon Lear’, and that the actor should ‘impersonate both Lear and-reflected in Lear-the storm’.” p. 72
King Lear (1970) Grigori Kozintsev
The Tale of Lear (1984) Tadashi Suzuki
King Lear (1987) Jean-Luc Godard
King Lear (1971) Peter Brook
King Lear (1983) Michael Elliott
A king Lear of the Steppes (1870) Turgenev
King Lear’s Wife (1915/1920) Gordon Bottomley
Lear (1971) Edward Bond
Book: A Thousand Acres (1991) Jane Smiley
“The language of Shakespeare’s time was permeated by the Bible.” p. 87