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Combining manga and the timeless texts of Shakespeare's plays, this series translates some of the greatest works of literature into a new format. In King Lear , the aging king--here a Native American--must decide how to split his kingdom among his daughters. When he scorns his one dutiful daughter and trusts the two selfish ones, he pays a steep price.

F&P level: Z

Author Notes

William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School.

At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry.

By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true.

Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play.

Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 12 Up-This famous family tragedy is dramatized expressively by an outstanding cast of experienced actors led by Paul Scofield. They are very knowledgeable about the play and give each speech with changes of tone and intonation expressing the exact shades necessary for proper understanding. Hearing the voices personalizes the story, making it seem as if this tragedy is real. Voices vary from raging shouts to gentle whispers. The British accents add realism and are not distracting. Appropriate sound effects, whether an animal baying, rain pelting, or horns blaring, assist in setting the mood. However, it is necessary to identify each character by his speech alone as there is no narrator announcing a scene, an entrance, or a setting. Because this can be confusing, high school students should either use the prepared guide which summarizes this information, or have the entire text in front of them. King Lear is not often taught in regular high school English classes, and even 12th grade AP classes have trouble understanding the play. So, although this is an excellent production, unless the play is taught in your school, consider it a supplementary purchase at best.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

If this volume is representative of the ``Text and Performance'' series as a whole, these study guides should gain the respect of American teachers of Renaissance drama. The King Lear is certainly to be recommended, and not only for undergraduate literature and theater majors. Salga-do makes the stage history of Lear both interesting in itself and the context for a comprehensive summary of the problems of textual and dramatic interpretation. His treatment of the critical approaches to the play and key aspects of its structure, style, and characterization in Part 1 (text) is basic without being in the least condescending. In Part 2 (performance) he examines how these have been handled in four modern productions: the Old Vic's (1940), Peter Brook's (1962), Trevor Nunn's (1968), and Kozintsev's film version (1970). Unlike the typical study guide, this book has neither a text of the play nor the all-too-familiar paraphrases and glosses. The author describes rather than interprets, which requires students to read and paraphrase for themselves. And since passages are analyzed selectively to show range of style and differences of purpose and effect, students are alerted to possibility rather than told what to see and believe. Despite its brevity the amount of coverage is impressive indeed. The style is lively and at times even elegant. For undergraduate and community college students.-R.P. Griffin, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

Library Journal Review

This must be a case of opposites attracting, as Yale releases another duo in its ongoing annotated Shakespeare series. Here the Bard's heaviest drama is paired with one of his lightest comedies. These also include textual notes, essays by Harold Bloom, and other extras. Great for the price. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.