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"In recent years, scholars have increasingly put the works of William Shakespeare (1564-1623) in dialogue with the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas (1905-1995)... The majority of these Shakespearean references are to Hamlet and Macbeth, but contemporary critics working in the vein of Levinas have tended to favor King Lear. No Shakespearean play has been subjected to Levinasian analysis more fully or more frequently.5 This critical proclivity is not unwarranted, for Shakespeare's tragic play and Levinas's ethical writings tell the same basic story: that of the egoist who heedlessly pursues his own interests until he is until he is caught short and called into question by traumatizing encounters with others."


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Shakespeare Quarterly following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version

Lehnhof, Kent R. "Sweet Fooling: Ethical Humor in King Lear and Levinas." Shakespeare Quarterly, Feb. 2022.

is available online at

Peer Reviewed



Folger Shakespeare Library

Available for download on Thursday, February 15, 2024