Stapleford Granary

Course description

Saturday 20 October


14.00-17.30  £50 / £45 students

Tea and coffee provided

Understanding King Lear

In partnership with Literature Cambridge


King Lear is one of Shakespeare's greatest plays. Two leading Cambridge scholars will explore some of its powerful ideas.

 Adrian Poole will start from the scene on Dover Cliff – the ‘extreme verge’. He will explore what it means – for the play, for its characters, for readers and audiences – to be ‘stretched out’.

Fred Parker will look at the idea of ‘the thing itself’. When King Lear meets Poor Tom, he thinks he has arrived at ‘the thing itself’ – the core, the bedrock, the naked truth of life. But is this true?

 For Poor Tom is not Poor Tom, but Edgar in disguise. His madness is a lie as well as a kind of truth. Where has Lear arrived? Where is he going?

 There will be two lectures and a round-table seminar in which all can participate. No prerequisites; just a love of Shakespeare.

Further information:

T 01223 324960

About our lecturers

Dr Fred Parker is Senior Lecturer in English and a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. He teaches Shakespeare and Tragedy in the Cambridge tripos, and also works closely on literature between Milton and Byron (1660–1830) and its connections with moral philosophy. His books include Scepticism and Literature (2003) and The Devil as Muse (2011), which looked at the Devil as literary inspiration for Blake and Byron.

Professor Adrian Poole is Emeritus Professor of English Literature and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He has written and lectured extensively on Shakespeare, especially the tragedies, and on the afterlives of Shakespeare in the work of later artists, writers and readers. His books include Tragedy: Shakespeare and the Greek Example (1987), Shakespeare and the Victorians (2003) and Tragedy: A Very Short Introduction (2005).