Saturday, August 29, 2015

King Lear - Book Club Comments

Dick Arms:  How to give a grade to Shakespeare?  I suggest limited reading.  From the standpoint of ideas, he is fascinating.  The Old King in his story is now changing his will.  Great literature:   Some of it is awfully contrived, coincidence heavy.  I give it an A because it is Shakespeare.
Bob Simon:  I give it an A also.  I was in Paris in May at a private home art collection:  from Gelato to Caravaggio (a leading exponent of Baroque art).  His painting of a snake in the grapes reminds me of Shakespeare, who captivated the true human condition and projected it to theater. Worthy of whatever grade – so compelling.
Rob Easterling:  Occasionally as an adult I have done some light reading of Shakespeare.  I appreciate your picking this, aging parents in here, our offspring facing taking care of us.  This is good for an aging men’s book club.  Lear needed a Turnover Plan.  The first two or three acts were tough for me, until I found the No Fear Shakespeare for King Lear.  I give it an A, and I appreciated the video. 
Ron Bousek:  Charlie gets an A; as for the play, several considerations:  1) Difficult to understand; 2) Need outside assistance; 3) Plot clever.  Some redeeming qualities.  As a secondary grade:  A; Primary: no grade.
Dick Jensen:  I have one daughter, and it bugged me how fast emotions happen/change in this play.  Edgar was taken out by Edmund’s oration. Can’t see someone disowning his own favorite daughter.  I don’t want to grade the damn thing.  Told my wife, “I feel like I’m going to English Class tonight.”  Punt:  A
Ken Gillen:  (sigh).  As opposed to those who read Shakespeare in High School or college, this is my first Shakespeare play since high school.  For the fun of it, I started reading the center column, Act 1, Scene 1.  If I continued, the grade would be D.  I switched to the translated (novel), and it was much more understandable, but still far-fetched.  Still not my cup of tea, but grade went from D to B.  Not thinking, “Gee, what is the next Shakespeare I want to read?”  Grade:  B
Tom Genoni:  I’m with Tolstoy and Ira Glass – the Emperor wears no clothes.  The translation was mildly interesting.  The value is in the language.  The DVD acting was way over the top.  C
Mike B:  When I think of Shakespeare, I think of Frank McCourt in Angela’s Ashes discovering it for the first time: I don't know what it means and I don't care because it's Shakespeare and it's like having jewels in my mouth when I say the words.”   Forget the plot, this is 16th century entertainment, but the beauty is in the King’s English. Very great kudos to Charlie for getting us the tools to enjoy this ancient work.  It was tough in high school, but the phrases hang around today for me:  “Nothing will come of nothing.”  “Now, gods, stand up for bastards!”  (words I live by).  Hamlet may be better, Henry V ( St. Crispin’s Day speech) are A, this is A- 
Bob Woods:  I had always heard of this as great literature, but I was not impressed.  The plot was a skeleton to hold vignettes on.  The plot, play was contrived.  About a B.
Keith:  Concise summary:  Tragedy is 5 acts:  Defeat, Desperation, despair.  [see the previous blog entry for the Poetaster’s Leary Review]  B

King Lear - by Poet Laureate of the Last Thursday Book Club

A "Leary" Review

by the LTBC Eminent Poetaster

Oh my, the Tragedy of King Lear,
Crown of England ... but alas, not all here
Plans to carve up his Royal Throne
Among three daughters ... his very own.

But wait!  two are very, very bad
Only Cordelia truly loves her Dad
Again, my friends, dementia prevails
And 'tis the evil duo Lear hails.

Poor Cordy's not asked to his dance
So she elopes with the lascivious King of France.
Now the evil daughters plot Daddy's pain
While King Lear goes slowly insane.

He first tries streaking a stormy heath
Clad in naught but his chattering teeth.
Lear's friend, Gloucester, suddenly joins in
When he sees where Loopy Lear's been.

So the serpenty sisters, out of spite
Gouge out Gloucester's "insightful" eye sight.
But wait!  Cordelia's French army returns
And for her dear father she greatly yearns.

They meet, hug and kiss
As if nothing's amiss -
For a brief moment it seems, my friend
Like we enjoy sugar & cream again.

But alas, as we near our final scene
Things really get nasty & downright mean.
That's to say, our body count
Starts to exponentially mount.

Edmund has Lear and Cordy jailed
So again, dark evil has prevailed.
He then has sweet Cordy hanged
Let the one good daughter be "dangling danged."

In the end, beaucoup blood is bled:
Lear, Gloucester & Edmond, door-nail dead.
Indeed, only Albany, Edgar & Kent
Survive the carnage ... their lives not spent.

Methinks Lear's ex-kingdom's on a slippery slope
And alas, dear friend, there is no hope!

P.S.:  "A tragedy is about defeat, damnation, death & despair
          These are shades of Life we all must bear."