King Lear

King Lear

4.3 68
by William Shakespeare

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[Lear] is the most awesome of all the poet's originals. No one else in Shakespeare is so legitimate a representation of supreme authority.
@HiLEARious What, my ungrateful girls are kicking me out? I’ll be cold and homeless. This sucketh. Very unexpected. Am I right?

Seriously. They SAID THEY LOVED ME. I really do not get it. Who lies just


[Lear] is the most awesome of all the poet's originals. No one else in Shakespeare is so legitimate a representation of supreme authority.
@HiLEARious What, my ungrateful girls are kicking me out? I’ll be cold and homeless. This sucketh. Very unexpected. Am I right?

Seriously. They SAID THEY LOVED ME. I really do not get it. Who lies just because they know it will win them land and power??

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 5-9

Each book opens with a list of characters and a description of the setting. Background information, a short synopsis, famous phrases from the play, and a biographical sketch of Shakespeare are also included. Described as titles for reluctant readers, each slim volume is written in large-sized font and includes full-color illustrations covering between two to five panels per age. All dialogue has been extracted from the original play, which exposes readers to Shakespearean language. Explanatory text boxes judiciously placed throughout the panels enhance readers' understanding of characters, actions, and events. With substantial front and back matter, these adaptations seem best suited for instructional purposes. Additional explanation, discussion, and further reading may be required if young readers are to understand the Shakespearean phrases and interlocking plots as well as the subject matter of these plays: madness, human suffering, suicide, revenge, and murder. However, the books will serve as introductions to the Bard for older, reluctant readers. Dunn's illustrations for Hamlet and King Lear were done in a straightforward style and have rich, dramatic colors. Espinosa's use of a limited color palette for A Midsummer Night's Dream suits the moonlight setting. This adaptation's inclusion of Puck's rhyming introduction to the characters is a delightful addition.-Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

Kirkus Reviews
From an artist known for his vivid graphic-novel reworkings of Beowulf (2007) and The Merchant of Venice (2008) comes this nuanced adaptation of King Lear. Employing a range of artistic styles that convey dramatic mood, the artist begins the play almost as a fairy tale, featuring bright, softly washed drawings. Once Cordelia is cast out and things sour, the images become darker and more compact. As the king descends into madness, the art becomes downright menacing, with Lear appearing as a jagged, ghostly figure drawn with white pencil on a dark background. These visual cues assist to a degree in deciphering the meaning of the Shakespearean language. Much of the text of the play remains intact, though in the backmatter Hinds dissects page by page what changes were made and why, offering scholarly interpretations that are both insightful and cleanly summative. The story doesn't leap from page, but this is a remarkably rendered and worthwhile treatment of the tragedy. (Graphic drama. 13 & up)
From the Publisher

"A quite wonderful idea. So blindingly obvious, I can't understand why nobody had thought of it before. I will certainly use the texts myself."—Sir Peter Hall

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Signet Classic Shakespeare Series
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Penguin Group
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Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

King Lear

An Introduction to This Text

The play we call King Lear was printed in two different versions in the first quarter of the seventeenth century.

In 1608 appeared M. William Shak-speare: His True Chronicle Historie of the life and death of King Lear and his three Daughters. With the vnfortunate life of Edgar, sonne and heire to the Earle of Gloster, and his sullen and assumed humor of Tom of Bedlam. This printing was a quarto or pocket-size book known today as “Q1.” It is remarkable among early printed Shakespeare plays for its hundreds of lines of verse that are either erroneously divided or set as prose; in addition, some of its prose is set as verse. As Q1 was going through the press, it was extensively corrected; thus different copies of its pages contain different readings. Sometimes the correction appears to be competent; at other times, however, it is better called “miscorrection.” (In 1619 appeared a second quarto printing of the play [“Q2”]. It was, for the most part, simply a reprint of Q1, but it contained many corrections [as well as new errors] and changes, especially in the lining of verse in the last scene or so of Act 4 and in Act 5. This second printing had exactly the same title as Q1, and it even retained on its title page the 1608 date of Q1; the true date of Q2’s printing [1619] was not discovered until early in the twentieth century.)

The second version to see print is found in the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623 (“F”). Entitled simply The Tragedie of King Lear, F contains over 100 lines that are not in Q1; at the same time F lacks about 300 lines (including a whole scene, 4.3) that are present in Q1. Many of the lines unique to Q1 or to F cluster together in quite extensive passages. The Q1 and F versions also differ from each other in their readings of over 800 words. In spite of the wide differences between the quarto and Folio printings, there is, nevertheless, such close agreement in punctuation between Q2 and F on some pages that the suspicion arises that the F typesetters may have referred to Q2 even if their copy was a manuscript. Thus when F agrees with Q2 against Q1, editors sometimes suspect that F may have been led into error by Q2 (see, for example, in the textual notes 1.4.32, 141; 2.1.141; 2.2.165; 4.2.74, 96; 4.6.299; 4.7.68; 5.3.186). In other cases, however, F agrees with Q2 in the correction of obvious (or nearly obvious) errors in Q1 (see, for example, in the textual notes 1.1.163; 1.4.327; 1.5.8; 2.1.13SD, 63; 2.2.98, 152, 163, 171; 2.4.121; 186, 246; 3.3.3; 3.7.90; 4.1.10; 4.2.18; 4.4.30; 4.5.8; 4.6.49, 53, 85, 100, 127, 286; 5.1.63; 5.2.5SD; 5.3.30SD, 365, 370).

Title page of the First Quarto of King Lear, 1608 (facsimile).

From the 1623 First Folio.

(Copy 54 in the Folger Shakespeare Library collection.)

Since early in the eighteenth century, editors have combined Q1 and F to produce what is termed a “conflated text.” But it is impossible in any edition to combine the whole of the two versions, because they often provide alternative readings that are mutually exclusive; for example, when Q1 has the earl of Gloucester in his first speech refer to Lear’s planned “division of the kingdoms,” the Folio prints the singular “kingdom.” In such cases (and there are a great many such cases), editors must choose whether to be guided by Q1 or by F in selecting what to print.

Twentieth-century editors of Shakespeare made the decision about which version of King Lear to prefer according to their theories about the origins of the early printed texts. For the greater part of the century, editors preferred F to Q1 in the belief that the Q1 text originated either in a shorthand transcription of a performance or in a reconstruction of the play by actors who depended on their memories of their parts. On the other hand, the F text was believed to have come down to us without the intervention of shorthand or memorial reconstruction. In the past few decades, however, Q1 has found more favor with some editors according to a theory that it was printed directly from Shakespeare’s own manuscript and that F was set into type from a version of the play that had been rehandled by another dramatist after Shakespeare’s retirement from the theater. This second theory is today in competition with yet a third theory that holds that Q1 and F are distinct, independent Shakespearean versions of the play that ought never to be combined with each other in an edition. Those who hold this third theory think that Q1 was printed from Shakespeare’s own manuscript, but they also think that the F text is the product of a revision of the play by Shakespeare after the printing of Q1. Nevertheless, as scholars reexamine all such narratives about the origins of the printed texts, we discover that the evidence upon which they are based is questionable, and we become more skeptical about ever identifying with any certainty how the play assumed the forms in which it was printed.

The present edition is based upon a fresh examination of the early printed texts rather than upon any modern edition.I It offers its readers the Folio printing of King Lear.II But it offers an edition of the Folio because it prints such Q1 readings and such later editorial emendations as are, in the editors’ judgments, necessary to repair what may be errors and deficiencies in the Folio. Furthermore, the present edition also offers its readers all the passages and a number of the words that are to be found only in Q1 (and not in F), marking them as such (see below).

Q1 words are added when their omission seems to leave a gap in our text. For example, in the first scene of the play, a speech of Cordelia’s concludes in F with the line “Sure I shall never marry like my sisters”—without specifying the respect in which her marriage will differ from theirs. Q1 alone provides the required specification with an additional half-line, “To love my father all,” and we include Q1’s half-line in our text. (For similar additions, see 1.1.49, 75, 175, 246, 335; 1.2.140–41; 1.3.29; 1.4.195, 267–68, 321; 2.2.29; 3.2.85; 3.4.51, 52, 122, 143; 4.1.48; 4.5.43; 4.6.299; 4.7.28, 67; 5.1.20; 5.3.54. In a number of these cases the Q1 word or words are added to fill out short [and metrically deficient] lines in F.) We also add an oath from Q1 (“Fut,” 1.2.138) that may have been removed from the F text through censorship. However, when F lacks Q1 words that appear to add nothing of significance, we do not add these words to our text. For example, Q1 adds the word “attire” to the end of Lear’s statement to Edgar, “I do not like the fashion of your garments. You will say they are Persian” (3.6.83–85). Here the Q1 word “attire” seems a mere repetition of the earlier “garments.” (Compare, among many instances, Q1 additions not included in our text—words that are sometimes needless, sometimes superfluous—listed in the textual notes at 1.1.60; 2.4.266; 3.6.83; 3.7.66, 68; 4.6.298.)

Sometimes Q1 readings are substituted for F words when a word in F is unintelligible (i.e., not a word) or is incorrect according to the standards of that time for acceptable grammar, rhetoric, idiom, or usage, and Q1 provides an intelligible and acceptable word. Examples of such substitutions are Q1’s “fathers” (modernized to “father’s”) for F’s “Farhers” (1.2.18), Q1’s “your” for F’s “yout” (2.1.122), Q1’s “possesses” for F’s “professes” (1.1.82), or Q1’s “panting” for F’s “painting” when Oswald is referred to as “half breathless, ⟨panting⟩” (2.4.36). (Compare substitutions from Q1 at 1.1.5, 72, 176, 259; 1.4.1, 51, 164, 182, 203; 2.1.2, 61, 80, 92, 101–2, 144; 2.2.0SD, 23, 82, 83, 131, 141, 166, 187; 2.3.4, 18, 19; 2.4.8, 12, 39, 65, 82, 144, 146, 212; 3.2.3; 3.4.12, 51, 56, 57, 97, 123; 3.5.26; 3.6.73; 4.1.65; 4.2.91; 4.4.3, 12SP, 20; 4.6.22, 77, 102, 180, 300; 4.7.0SP, 15SP; 5.1.52, 55; 5.3.82SP, 99, 101, 118, 160, 163, 177, 308.) We recognize that our understanding of what was acceptable in Shakespeare’s time is to some extent inevitably based upon reading others’ editions of King Lear, but it is also based on reading other writing from the period and on historical dictionaries and studies of Shakespeare’s grammar.

Finally, we print a word from Q1 rather than from F when a word in F seems at odds with the story that the play tells and Q1 supplies a word that coheres with the story. For example, when Lear enters at the beginning of 2.4 he wonders, in F, why Cornwall and Regan did “not send back my Messengers.” But, as far as we know, Lear has sent only a single messenger (Kent) to Cornwall and Regan. Therefore, like most other editors, we print Q1’s “messenger” for F’s “Messengers.” (Compare 1.1.214 and 5.3.193.) Because we rarely substitute Q1 words for F’s, our edition is closer to F than are most other editions of the play available today.

In order to enable its readers to tell the difference between the F and Q1 versions, the present edition uses a variety of signals:

(1) All the words in this edition that are printed only in the First Quarto but not in the Folio appear in pointed brackets (⟨ ⟩).

(2) All full lines that are found only in the Folio and not in the First Quarto are printed in brackets ([ ]).

(3) Sometimes neither the Folio nor the First Quarto seems to offer a satisfactory reading, and it is necessary to print a word different from what is offered by either. Such words (called “emendations” by editors) are printed within half-brackets (< >).

In this edition, whenever we change the wording of the Folio or add anything to its stage directions, we mark the change. We want our readers to be immediately aware when we have intervened. (Only when we correct an obvious typographical error in the First Quarto or Folio does the change not get marked in our text.) Whenever we change the Folio or Quarto’s wording or change their punctuation so that meaning is changed, we list the change in the textual notes at the back of the book. Those who wish to find the Quarto’s alternatives to the Folio’s readings will be able to find these also in the textual notes.

For the convenience of the reader, we have modernized the punctuation and the spelling of both the Folio and the First Quarto. Thus, for example, our text supplies the modern standard spelling “father’s” for the Quarto’s spelling “fathers” (quoted above). Sometimes we go so far as to modernize certain old forms of words; for example, when a means “he,” we change it to he; we change mo to more and ye to you. But it is not our practice in editing any of the plays to modernize forms of words that sound distinctly different from modern forms. For example, when the early printed texts read sith or apricocks or porpentine, we have not modernized to since, apricots, porcupine. When the forms an, and, or and if appear instead of the modern form if, we have reduced and to an but have not changed any of these forms to their modern equivalent, if. We also modernize and, where necessary, correct passages in foreign languages, unless an error in the early printed text can be reasonably explained as a joke.

We correct or regularize a number of the proper names, as is the usual practice in editions of the play. For example, the Folio’s spellings “Gloster” and “Burgundie” are changed to the familiar “Gloucester” and “Burgundy”; and there are a number of other comparable adjustments in the names.

This edition differs from many earlier ones in its efforts to aid the reader in imagining the play as a performance rather than as a series of historical events. Thus stage directions are written with reference to the stage. For example, in 1.2 Edmund is represented in the dialogue and in the fiction of the play as putting a letter in his pocket. On the stage this letter would, however, be represented by a piece of paper. Thus the present edition reads “He puts a paper in his pocket” rather than “a letter.”

Whenever it is reasonably certain, in our view, that a speech is accompanied by a particular action, we provide a stage direction describing the action. (Occasional exceptions to this rule occur when the action is so obvious that to add a stage direction would insult the reader.) Stage directions for the entrance of characters in mid-scene are, with rare exceptions, placed so that they immediately precede the characters’ participation in the scene, even though these entrances may appear somewhat earlier in the early printed texts. Whenever we move a stage direction, we record this change in the textual notes. Latin stage directions (e.g., Exeunt) are translated into English (e.g., They exit).

We expand the often severely abbreviated forms of names used as speech headings in early printed texts into the full names of the characters. We also regularize the speakers’ names in speech headings, using only a single designation for each character, even though the early printed texts sometimes use a variety of designations. Variations in the speech headings of the early printed texts are recorded in the textual notes.

In the present edition, as well, we mark with a dash any change of address within a speech, unless a stage direction intervenes. When the -ed ending of a word is to be pronounced, we mark it with an accent.

Like editors for the last two centuries, we print metrically linked lines in the following way:


     Mak’st thou this shame thy pastime?

KENT                                                       No, my lord.

However, when there are a number of short verse lines that can be linked in more than one way, we do not, with rare exceptions, indent any of them.

The Explanatory Notes

The notes that appear in the commentary linked to the text are designed to provide readers with the help that they may need to enjoy the play. Whenever the meaning of a word in the text is not readily accessible in a good contemporary dictionary, we offer the meaning in a note. Sometimes we provide a note even when the relevant meaning is to be found in the dictionary but when the word has acquired since Shakespeare’s time other potentially confusing meanings. In our notes, we try to offer modern synonyms for Shakespeare’s words. We also try to indicate to the reader the connection between the word in the play and the modern synonym. For example, Shakespeare sometimes uses the word head to mean “source,” but, for modern readers, there may be no connection evident between these two words. We provide the connection by explaining Shakespeare’s usage as follows: “head: fountainhead, source.” On some occasions, a whole phrase or clause needs explanation. Then we rephrase in our own words the difficult passage, and add at the end synonyms for individual words in the passage. When scholars have been unable to determine the meaning of a word or phrase, we acknowledge the uncertainty. Biblical quotations are from the Geneva Bible (1560), with the spelling and punctuation modernized.

I We have also consulted a computerized text of the First Folio provided by the Text Archive of the Oxford University Computing Centre, to which we are grateful. Also of great value was Michael Warren’s The Complete King Lear (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989).

II We choose F not because we believe that it stands in closer relation to Shakespeare than Q1 (we do not think it possible to establish which of Q1 or F is closer to the historical figure Shakespeare) but because F is a “better” text than Q1 in that it requires an editor to make fewer changes to its line division and wording than an editor must make to Q1.

Meet the Author

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born to John Shakespeare and mother Mary Arden some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He wrote about 38 plays (the precise number is uncertain), a collection of sonnets and a variety of other poems.

Stanley Wells is Emeritus Professor of the University of Birmingham and Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Kiernan Ryan is Professor of English at Royal Holloway, University of London, and a Fellow of New Hall, University of Cambridge. He is the author of Shakespeare (3rd edn, 2002) and the editor of King Lear: Contemporary Critical Essays (1992) and Shakespeare: The Last Plays (1999).

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King Lear (Barnes & Noble Shakespeare) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 68 reviews.
JohnLemon More than 1 year ago
This review is not of King Lear itself (one of my two favorite Shakespeare plays, with the other being Othello), but rather on this edition of Lear (ISBN: 9781411400795), which was edited by Andrew Hadfield and David Scott Kastan. I read a lot of heavily annotated books, and I have to say that the Barnes & Noble Shakespeare editions have one of the best book designs I've ever encountered. The various references materials (footnotes and definitions for archaic words) appear in a manner that makes the text very easy to follow. The scholarship is also top-notch. The annotations give you enough to make things clear without insulting your intelligence, or without overburdening you with unnecessary detail. The essays are also interesting and informative. I've been avoiding Shakespeare ever since high school, which was many years ago. Now that I'm reading him again, I'm glad I'm in such good hands. It is making the experience a joy, rather than a chore. My compliments to the editors and the book designer. They have done a superior job of making this difficult text accessible to the modern reader. Highly recommended.
typoo More than 1 year ago
The Barnes and Noble edition of the plays are my favorites to read. The format of the books is great. No jumping around to read the footnotes and text explanatory notes unless I want to. The play speaks for itself and has for hundreds of years. I highly recommend all the B&N editions of his plays.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Barnes & Noble Shakespeare editions are my favorites. The font and clean layout make them very readable and the notes are helpful without being distracting to the eye or burdensome to read. They are also very reasonably priced!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Barnes and Noble team did a fantastic job here. The play - one of Shakespeare's best tragedies - is well-annotated and free from the crumminess inherent to the cheap Shakespeare editions that can be found on the Nook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great play, this edition has been the victiom of the google books project & so contains glaring typographical errors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the language! I loved how it all came together at the end. It was kind of suspenseful. I love Shakespeare.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The actual play Is much interesting but with the errors of the spelling it made it reaally boringgg no wonder its for free
raethompson More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite Shakespearean plays. Its challenging but a great read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
king lear is awsome -- thought i didnt read the book -- i did hear an a audio tape -- i got it cuz i was interested in it after a 'just shoot me' eposide -- its been one of my meny favertiot books sence (excuse mey spelling please)
Guest More than 1 year ago
King Lear is William Shakespeare's most magnificent and deliciously diabolical plays of ingratitude, the intoxicating promise of power and position, and the ultimate sacrifice of love. Lear's two daughters Regan and Goneril are two monstrously malevolant women of Britain who perpetuate their father's decreasing sanity, in order to maintain power in Britain. Lear's youngest daughter Cordelia, a compassionate, loyal, kind, and wonderfully woman who is a trememdous contrast to her evil sisters Goneril and Regan. Cordelia is, an angel of goodness who is a spectacular influence and characterization of what a daughter should give and mention to her father, not out of appetite but out of conscience. The line between good and evil is faultlessly drawn in this spectacular play by one of the most ingenious writers of the human condition who ever lived.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Certainly the most powerful and profound of all Shakespeare's plays. This one has to do with the ungratefulness of Lear's three daughters. Gonreil, Regan, and Cordelia whom he has divided his kingdom amongst the three of them. Except, Cordelia who has estranged herself from his love. Little does he know the two daughters whom he thinks love's him most are actually wicekdly plotting against him. I thought this had to be the most triumphant play written by Shakespeare. A glorious, and overwhelming account of selfishness, ingraitude, madness, and evil amongst a family seperated by hatred.
Guest More than 1 year ago
So I'm not exactly a Shakespeare scholar, but I still loved this tragedy. I think it's one of the best one, and it's a pity so few are put on live action show (the recent Hamlet,Henry V,Richard III,Midsummer Night's Dream, and other movies were great!). Unfortunately, some complain that it is not an official 'tragedy' because, according to A.C. Bradley, who's supposed to be some real genius, requires that Fate have little to do with any good tragedy...Yet King Lear DOES include Fate (cf. Gloucester's laments about the gods playing with human lives). So much of it that I think it's one of the main themes of the play. Unlike Bradley, I think this inevitability only INTENSES the depressing mood of the play, and to people suffering from chronic depression (like myself), the play really speaks out. Generational gaps and treatment of seniors are very relevant to our society, yet the question of Fate and the great tragedy that life can sometimes end up to be cannot be ignored in this one of Shakespeare's greatest plays. I mean, it IS a tragedy right???
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* holds his sword and coughs blood. He collapses bleeing from the chidori hole. The sword slides by Daisuke and blood pours around kai. *
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What clan is this? If anyone reads this, join Darkclan at othello all results!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Her golden pelt stood out in the moonlight.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bbt maybe
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Okay. Thankss."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Done. Advertised at Erin Hunter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She hugs her knees, the book propped up upon her thighs as she scans the pages, words from both the lyrics in her earbuds and from the page filtering through her brain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Appears in a small poof of blue smoke.* I'm here, dahlangs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Smiles wickedly