The only book I’d read of William Shakespeare was Timon of Athens. As time passed, I thought, maybe I should be reading his more popular works like Romeo and Juliet, and As You Like It. But then my book list kept expanding (and still does) to the point where I did not want to concentrate on one author at all times. There is another reason, but I’ll reveal it as I round off this review.
King Lear is the story of King Lear (obviously), who, wanting to distribute his kingdom among his three daughters, makes his decision based on who loves him the most. While the elder two daughters, who are married, say that they love him more than anything in the world, earning their shares of the kingdom, the youngest daughter, Cordelia, says that there is no comparison for her love of him. Furious, he disinherits her and banishes her, distributing her share between Goneril and Regan, his elder daughters. Of course, what Goneril and Regan have said is merely a ploy to gain power.
What follows is a mad, mad rush where everyone involved, including the Earl of Gloucester, the Earl of Kent, the Duke of Cornwall (husband to Regan) and the Duke of Albany (husband to Goneril) gains something, but ends up losing everything to greed and desire. The biggest loss is of the King, whose loss is more than anyone can comprehend. It’s heartbreaking while being arduous to read.
It took me a long time to read King Lear. Despite Shakespeare’s popularity and his reputation as the greatest writer of all time, I somehow find his work just about alright. It’s an opinion, like everyone is entitled to. Maybe it’s just me, but then again, the time period in which he wrote King Lear was completely different. Lingo was in stark contrast to what it is now. And though some of it is comprehensible, much of it remains part-mystery to me.
By mystery, I don’t mean that I did not understand. I read and I understood. But I had to read a summary of the story online in order to make sure that what I understood is what it actually is. The reason why I call it part-mystery is that there is an immense arduousness that goes into reading King Lear. Any of Shakespeare’s works, for that matter.
I wish I could like Shakespeare’s works better. I wish I could just open one of his books and gobble it up like I would any contemporary or even any 19th century author. The whole point of reading the book, for me, was lost, when I finished taking in the words and went online to read the gist, correlating what I’d read on the way. And as I mentioned at the beginning of the review, this is the second reason why I did not want to read another Shakespeare for a long time between books.
It’s beyond me to rate such a widely loved author, especially when it is from the Bard of Avon himself. But that’s what I do on this blog. So unless it is a biography or an autobiography, I rate every book I post about.
Rating: 3/5 stars
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Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia!