Masks of "King Lear"

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9780520017184: Masks of

LEAR: Does Lear walk thus? Speak thus? / Who is it that can tell me who I am?
Centuries of critics and actors have tried to tell, but Lear's identity, and the meaning of his action in the play, are still touched with enigma.
This book seeks Shakespeare's intentions in King Lear in new ways. It explores major interpretations of distinguished actors and directors as well as of critics from England, the United States, France, Belgium, Japan, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Italy, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Poland. Is the play unsuited for the stage, as Charles Lamb - and others - have declared? How, in fact, has it been staged, and how visualized by critics? Is Lear designed to be a frail and aging old man? A powerful image of authority? Mad, or senile, to begin with? A kindly old father? Everyman? All of these? None? Does the play end with redemption? Unmitigated despair? Is it Christian? Pagan? Mr. Rosenberg confronts these and other questions from the base of his study and personal experience of the play.
To deepen the theatrical side of that experience, he began, as he did in his The Masks of Othello, with an involvement in the staged play: he directed and acted in Othello, and he followed a production of King Lear through two months of rehearsal and performance. One by-product of this intense participation was a discovery of some special qualities in the language of the play.
To achieve a better understanding of these qualities, Mr. Rosenberg put Lear's vocabulary through a computer, and established a concordance of every word both for the play as a whole and for each character. Interesting structural elements in Shakespeare's language become apparent.
Recognizing the difficulty, for a critic, of responding afresh to Shakespeare's craftsmanship in characterization and in arousing expectation, Mr. Rosenberg also arranged to expose the play to spectators who had never seen or read it. The response of this naive audience, after attending performances, was curious and illuminating. The author believes that any critical approach must be used that will increase our understanding of Shakespeare's work.

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About the Author:

Martin Rosenberg is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

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Rosenberg, Marvin
Published by University of California Press
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Rosenberg, Marvin
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Marvin Rosenberg
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