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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 244

1838, Macready returned to Shakespeare's text throughout.

     What is the meaning of these opposite sets of facts? Are the lovers of Shakespeare wholly in the right; and is the general reader and playgoer, were even Tate and Dr. Johnson, altogether in the wrong? I venture to doubt it. When I read King Lear two impressions are left on my mind, which seem to answer roughly to the two sets of facts. King Lear seems to me Shakespeare's greatest achievement, but it seems to me not his best play. And I find that I tend to consider it from two rather different points of view. When I regard it strictly as a drama, it appears to me, though in certain parts overwhelming, decidedly inferior as a whole to Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth. When I am feeling that it is greater than any of these, and the fullest revelation of Shakespeare's power, I find I am not regarding it simply as a drama, but am grouping it in my mind with works like the Prometheus Vinctus and the Divine Comedy, and even with the greatest symphonies of Beethoven and the statues in the Medici Chapel.

     This twofold character of the play is to some extent illustrated by the affinities and the probable chronological position of King Lear. It is allied with two tragedies, Othello and Timon of Athens; and these two tragedies are utterly unlike.1 Othello was probably composed about 1604, and King Lear about 1605; and though there is a somewhat marked change in style and versification, there are obvious resemblances between the two. The most important have been touched on already: these are the most painful and the most pathetic of the four tragedies, those in which evil appears in its coldest

   1I leave undiscussed the position of King Lear in relation to the 'comedies' of Measure for Measure, Troilus and Cressida and All's Well.

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