Review Blog

Feb 22 2010

King Lear adapted and ill.by Gareth Hinds

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Candlewick Press, 2007. ISBN 9780763643447.
(Age 14+) Recommended. King Lear is one of Shakespeare's most profound and challenging plays. Students who have been guided through the plot and stirring themes by a teacher remember the experience for life. While recorded performances are available, opportunities to see a live performance are rare.
Gareth Hinds believes that 'the graphic-novel is a perfect bridge between the printed word and theatrical performance.' Following his successes with The Merchant of Venice and Beowulf, he has applied his artistic skills and understanding of literature to King Lear. The story is illustrated with drawings which emphasise the humanity of the characters and the pathos of their predicaments. The conventions of drama, such as its division into acts and scenes, have been dispensed with so that the result is more like a novel than a play.
The choice of dialogue makes no concessions to a reader who finds Shakespeare's language daunting. From the opening line to the final curtain, the only words in the speech bubbles are those of the playwright. Sound effects, such as 'Whock', are a little incongruous but do not detract from the dramatic effect.
In the comprehensive Notes, the author explains the reason for some of his omissions from the original work and his thoughts about the play. His insights are worth reading for their own sake.
Gareth Hinds' King Lear is unlikely to satisfy readers familiar with the play or provide an entree into Shakespeare's work for younger students. It may, however, help to make a complex work more accessible and comprehensible to young adults.
Elizabeth Bor

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