April 29th

Working together to purify Shakespeare’s works for children’s appreciation, Charles and Mary Lamb produced in 1831 these prose renditions of Shakespeare’s plays, Tales from Shakespeare, which collectively served to embed Shakespeare more deeply in England’s national consciousness. Among other changes in these versions of the plays, the tragic conclusions are smoothed over by the Lambs with some version of the phrase “too horrible to relate here.” Take, for instance, this version of the conclusion of King Lear:

How the judgment of Heaven overtook the bad earl of Gloucester, whose treasons were discovered, and himself slain in single combat with his brother, the lawful earl; and how Goneril’s husband, the Duke of Albany, who was innocent of the death of Cordelia, and had never encouraged his lady in her wicked proceedings against her father, ascended the throne of Britain after the death of Lear, is needless here to narrate; Lear and his Three Daughters being dead, whose adventures alone concern our story.

It is, the Lambs suggest, for later in life that such moments in Shakespeare’s tragedies should be encountered.

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