Lear is my favourite Shakespeare for quite a few reasons, but here it’s considered from a base assumption that it sucks royally, so to speak. I include the teaser paragraph because you should know that there are still papers left in the world that run stories and series like this one at the LA Times (if you’re Canadian, you might not know that news papers aren’t just column after column of blowhard pop culture opinion and rampant political editorializing).
With this piece, we introduce a series of occasional articles in which contemporary writers look back at classic works of literature. Here, Jack Lynch, the author of “Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright Into the Bard” revisits “King Lear,” which continues its run this week at UCLA with Ian McKellen in the title role.
It’s not an easy play to like. The novelist William Makepeace Thackeray found “King Lear” a “bore” when he saw it in 1847. “It is almost blasphemy to say a play of Shakespeare is bad,” he admitted, but “I can’t help it if I think so.” Since “Lear” first appeared around 1605, many have made similar accusations.