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Emmanuel Levinas’s ideas about intersubjectivity can change our reading of Shakespeare by putting philosophical pressure on Shakespeare’s dramatization of human relatedness in The Tragedy of King Lear (1607–8). Even though Levinas does not discuss Lear at length in any of his published work, this difficult philosopher and this difficult play have much to say to one another. Levinas can be fruitfully brought to bear on Shakespeare’s great tragedy, generating fresh and productive ideas about its most pivotal moments, its most perplexing questions, and its most popular interpretations. In addition, Levinas can provide a useful frame for discussing the nature of the response the stage play requires of us, both as audience members and literary critics.


This article was originally published in Modern Philology, volume 111, in 2014.

Peer Reviewed



University of Chicago Press



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