King Lear – Ed. Best & Joubin
  • Publication Date: July 22, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781554815142 / 1554815142
  • 384 pages; 6" x 9"

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King Lear – Ed. Best & Joubin

  • Publication Date: July 22, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781554815142 / 1554815142
  • 384 pages; 6" x 9"

The Broadview British Bookshelf: A Digital Library. Get this edition and 330+ others for $45

King Lear is a play for our times. The central characters experience intense suffering in a hostile and unpredictable world. They face domestic cruelty, political defeat, and a stormy external environment that invades them “to the skin.” They constantly question the meaning of their experiences as we watch their emotions range from despair to rage to unexpected tenderness and desperate hope as they are rejected, even tortured. Lear’s daughters, as in a fairy tale, are three strong women. The eldest two vie for sexual and political power, while the youngest, Cordelia, is initially banished because of her plain speaking but then returns in a doomed attempt to restore her father to his throne.

King Lear has an unusual performance history. It was significantly revised, by Shakespeare or others, between its first two publications and was then succeeded by an adaptation that softened the ending so that Lear and Cordelia survived. In our own times King Lear is performed around the world in productions that explore its relevance to contemporary political and environmental challenges. This edition offers a distinctive “extended” text, taking the later Folio as a starting point and adding the lines that appear only in the Quarto, distinguished by a light gray background. Variations in individual words that are of critical interest are recorded in the margin.


“The Broadview King Lear is an excellent edition for students and readers of all ages. It provides a useful, unobtrusive view of the two early versions of Shakespeare’s play-text, a clear and perceptive introduction to some key aspects of that play and to Shakespeare in general, compact glosses of words that might puzzle modern readers, and a well-chosen array of relevant documents that put the play into its key contexts.” — Robert N. Watson, University of California, Los Angeles

“This King Lear stands out for its educationally wise and theatrically astute text. The editors generously supply a cornucopia of supplementary material from historical documents, prior and contemporary historical narratives, and poetic and dramatic sources. The section on past theatrical productions is so well conceived and written that it creates a sense of eye-witnessed events for both new readers and experienced theater buffs. Unlike any previous edition I’ve seen, here the display and explanation of Quarto and Folio variants appear as imaginative invitations rather than as interruptions or confusions to a reader’s movement through the play. Because they are so well presented, these often small-scale but occasionally quite extended textual alternatives from the earliest versions will enlighten new readers and intrigue experienced teachers and players. The variant passages with their notes together reveal themselves as working guides through the practicalities and creative possibilities of staging plays in Shakespeare’s time.” — Steven Urkowitz, Emeritus Professor, English and Theater, City College of New York

“The Broadview Lear is preeminently the best edition for today’s collegiate readers” — A.W. Lee, Choice

“Upon a Wheel of Fire”: Performing King Lear on Stage and on Screen
Shakespeare’s Life
Shakespeare’s Theater
William Shakespeare and King Lear: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Tragedy of King Lear

Appendix A: Shakespeare’s Sources

  • 1. “The Most Indispensable Thing”: A Folk Tale from Germany
  • 2. From Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain (c. 1136)
  • 3. From John Higgins, The Mirror for Magistrates (1575)
  • 4. From Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, Gorboduc (1562)
  • 5. From Raphael Holinshed, Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1587)
  • 6. From Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1590)
  • 7. From The History of King Leir (c. 1594)
  • 8. From Sir Philip Sidney, The Arcadia (1590)
  • 9. From Samuel Harsnett, A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures (1603)

Appendix B: Literary, Social, and Historical Contexts

  • 1. From Aristotle, Poetics (c. 330 BCE)
  • 2. From Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Monk’s Tale” (c. 1400)
  • 3. From Sir Philip Sidney, The Defense of Poetry (1579)
  • 4. From The Book of Job
  • 5. From John Knox, The First Blast of the Trumpet (1588)
  • 6. From King James, Basilikon Doron (1603)
  • 7. Selections from Jest Books
    • (a) From A Hundred Mery Talys (1526)
    • (b) From Richard Tarlton, Tarlton’s Jests (1638)
  • 8. Attitudes to Bastards in Shakespeare’s Time
    • (a) “A Ballad of the Birth of the Monstrous Child” (1562)
    • (b) John Lyly Passes on the Advice of Plutarch (sixteenth century)
    • (c) From Richard Jones, The Book of Honor and Arms (1590)
    • (d) Shakespeare’s Bastards
  • 9. Attitudes to Aging in the Renaissance
    • (a) From “Youth and Age” (fifteenth century)
    • (b) From Psalm 90
    • (c) Montaigne on Aging Parents (1580)
    • (d) Shakespeare and Old Age
  • Appendix C: Critical Reception
  • Appendix D: King Lear’s Afterlife

    • 1. From Nahum Tate, King Lear (1681)

    Bibliography and Works Cited

    Michael R. Best is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Victoria and the founder of the Internet Shakespeare Editions. Alexa Alice Joubin is the inaugural recipient of the bell hooks Legacy Award and holder of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award. She teaches at George Washington University, and is the former general performance editor of the Internet Shakespeare Editions.