An Essay on King Lear by S. L. Goldberg

By S. L. Goldberg

Professor Goldberg deals a studying of King Lear that avoids the pitfall possible choices of idealism, moralism, absurdism, and redemptionist sentimentality. He sees the play as a problem to our judgment of right and wrong and our desire for a sense of ordinary justice, yet as undercutting all effortless solutions. That it doesn't allow them is one in all its details. The essay strains a constructing reaction to the full of the motion because it proceeds, making no untimely judgments. It springs from a thought of experience of what a poetic drama is and the way it really works: in particular the way it provides 'character' and the way the perspectives of the characters relate to the total purpose of the play and the author's personal imaginative and prescient of existence. Many readers are inclined to imagine this the main passable test they've got but learn to do justice to this nice play; simply because Professor Goldberg responds to it with intelligence and sensitivity, simply because he doesn't impose a ready-made which means on it, and since he has thought of Shakespearean drama in a fashion which makes this short e-book a unique level within the heritage of feedback because Bradley and Wilson Knight.

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Bradley and his Influence in Twentieth-Century Shakespeare Criticism (Oxford, 1972). The application of such assumptions specifically to King Lear has been sharply questioned by Paul J. Alpers in his essay on 'King Lear and the Theory of the "Sight Pattern"', in Reuben A. ), In Defense of Reading (New York, 1962); see esp. pp. 134, 143. 1 If characters are conventions abstracted by the reader from his total response to the words of the play (a point that Bradley himself insisted on, incidentally2), it is equally true that the poetic medium of a Shakespearean tragedy reaches us only as what one character or another says - a conventional condition that controls our response to the poetry at every point.

As Knights suggests, these are important precisely, but only, because they extend the same principle to whatever is acknowledged as the most basic, most comprehensive, and least contingent 'reality'. Before turning to an especially relevant consequence of this second point, however, it may be worth noting one possible source of confusion. In developing his argument, Knights draws specifically on ideas which either derive directly from Coleridge or which (in part at least) entered English criticism mainly through him.

1 1 L. C. Knights, An Approach to cHamlet3 (London, i960), p. 34, cf. p. 14; 'The Question of Character in Shakespeare', in Further Explorations (London, 1965), p. ' in Explorations(London, 1958 [1946]), p. 36. 50 SIGHT, 'VISION3, AND ACTION Many of Knights's observations in Some Shakespearean Themes about the relationship between Lear's Vision' and his particular substance as a character are consequently very much to the point: Now if there is one truth that [King Lear] brings home with superb force it is that neither man's reason nor his powers of perception function in isolation from the rest of his personality: quantum sumus, scimus.

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