Monday, November 23, 2015

Review of Modern Shakespeare's "King Lear: The Original Play with a Modern Translation"

This may make me an odd English major, but I am not a William Shakespeare fan. Yes, he gave a lot to the English language. Some of it was good, but not all he contributed was admirable.  I don't read much Shakespeare, so King Lear was an acceptable choice for "a genre you don't typically read."

My Elizabethan English is a bit rough, so I opted to read the Modern Shakespeare edition,  King Lear: The Original Play with a Modern Translation.  It provides three versions of the tragedy. The first gives both the original and the translation simultaneously (this is the one I chose) followed by just the translation and then just the original (for the purists).

I have to say, Shakespeare comes off course, rude, and crass when read in modern English.  There were a few things that went right over my head in the archaic form, and frankly, I wish it had stayed that way.

Still, there are some fascinating themes to study in King Lear. Basically, the play is about adult children's love (pretend or real) for their fathers. Which should the parent value most? Should King Lear reward profuse professions of love that flatter his vanity? Or can he accept a quiet love expressed simply and backed up by actions? King Lear makes the wrong choice and sets in motion a catastrophic series of events which result in true tragedy.

So, that is enough Shakespeare for a while. It brought up some memories from my college days, and they weren't necessarily the better ones!


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