Of the huge body of critical writing devoted to Shakespeare's plays, by far the greatest proportion is concerned with the tragedies - and, for students of English literature, a familiarity with the great tragedies remains a necessity. To deal with such a massive volume of critical writing, however is no simple task. Critical commentary on King Lear ranges across nearly three centuries and reflects the changing tastes, perceptions and literary conventions of many ages.
In this Readers' Guide, Susan Bruce provides the readers with a pathway through the major writings on King Lear, tracing the development of the numerous critical debates and shifts in perspective that have led to the successive revaluations of this central work. The Guide provides extracts and essays from contemporary critics who write as academics and literary scholars, as well as from those who wrote as 'educated amateurs' in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and at each stage the secondary material is set in context and arranged to provide students with a firm grasp of the progress of critical thinking on the play.