Eccentric Musings (jakaEM)

"I have undergone sharp discipline which has taught me wisdom; and then, I have read more than you would fancy." Emily Brontë


still figuring this place out - Jen W

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Friend of My Youth
Alice Munro
Progress: 115/288 pages
Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature
Margaret Atwood
King Lear - William Shakespeare I love this play. It is my favourite of all of 'em.

Upon re-reading, I'm struck by the observation that the King of France is the smartest man here. The only one whose actions show any kind of foresight. "She is herself a dowry...". Although he got sloppy seconds and his calculated risk didn't pay off, he saw the writing on the wall from Act 1, Scene 1. He knew them skanky beyotches, G & R, would do themselves in and that Lear would lose his shit when he realized what he'd done. And he'd have a straight shoot at the crown of England, disguising his attack on England with the purer motive of Cordelia's love for her father. Convenient that he found an excuse to head back to France just as the invasion began. Hah! Too bad, so sad, King of France ....

I've read this again specifically to think about how Smiley deconstructed it to write A Thousand Acres. I haven't worked out exactly what she accomplishes in re-casting G & R from pure opportunistic evil, as they are in King Lear, to victims/survivors, sympathetically portrayed. Or, by having her Lear, i.e. Larry, never gain insight, never atone for or face justice for his crimes.

Shakespeare ties everything up neat as a bow and if it's not exactly a happy ending (certainly for Cordelia or Lear), justice is mostly served. Not so for Smiley's take on it.

Poor Cordelia - out of 'em all, her steadfast love and allegiance costs her the most. That is pretty cruel of Shakespeare, when you think of it: to have Edmund confess but not in time to save her. I guess then it wouldn't be a tragedy, huh? But really ... what point was he making here? Perhaps: even the purest motives, or greatest (self-)insight, don't end in justice for all. Justice is not only blind, but random.

Maybe that's what Smiley's getting at too.