Appropriations of Shakespeare's King Lear in Three
Modern North American Novels

Lund Studies in English No. 115

By Anna Lindhe
December 2012
Lund University
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.

ISBN: 9789197693523
188 pages

$99.50 Paper original

For centuries, readers and spectators have felt invited to sympathize with the father in one of William Shakespeare's most famous tragedies, King Lear. Towards the end of the 20th century, however, these sympathies shifted towards Lear's daughters in both the critical and the creative afterlife of the play. This book examines the ways in which three modern appropriations of King Lear - A Thousand Acres (1991) by Jane Smiley, Ladder of Years (1995) by Anne Tyler, and Cat's Eye (1988) by Margaret Atwood - suspend the reader's inclination to assign blame to Goneril and Regan, transferring a measure of responsibility back on the father. It demonstrates that literary appropriation is able to alter the reader's understanding of a major work of literature and even endender ethical effects in its readers.


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