Vanguard Spotlight Book of the Month: January 2018

Monthly Reads from ASU-Beebe Students, Faculty and Staff.

ASU-Beebe Employee Favorites

Each month Abington Library will feature a favorite book from a faculty, staff member, or student. They will give a brief synopsis of their chosen book.

Featured ASU-Beebe Faculty Member: Dr. Stephen Knapp

About Dr. Knapp

Dr. Stephen Knapp is Professor of English at ASU-Beebe.

About the Book


Dr. Stephen Knapp: Review of King Lear

I first read King Lear in my junior year in college. My professor, Howard Lord, was an old Shakespearean touring actor who would assign parts and have us read the play aloud in class. I was assigned the part of Kent, Lear’s best man who goes into disguise to help him because the King banishes him in a moment of pique. I loved reading the play aloud. I didn’t think I was very good, but on a day when he was absent Professor Lord left instructions for me to run the class in his stead—heady stuff for a 19-year-old. I guess I did okay. I have loved the play ever since, read it over 25 times in the past 40+ years, and taught it a dozen different times at two different universities, including here at ASUB. It’s about a king who gives his power and wealth away while trying to retain the position and privilege of king—a fool’s wish at best. The ensuing tragedy that leaves him penniless and forlorn, madness overcoming him, exposed to a ferocious storm and dying, is predictable. What is not is Shakespeare’s solution. What Lear learns is that he is not a king, with all the power, pomp, and ceremony that the role brings, but something more important, a man, what he calls in the play, “unaccommodated man . . . the thing itself.” Bereft of all his power and privilege, Lear must soldier on with little more than nothing, simply the things inherent to him as the man he is: love, kindness, and self-inspection. From such, worlds of wisdom come; of such is, quite possibly, the greatest play ever written. But don’t take my word for it, read King Lear for yourself—“look there, look there”--and see all there is to see in this wonderful play.

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