Richard Wilson
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Great stage of fools
King Lear and the King’s Men
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New Historicist critics liked to believe that in King Lear, William Shakespeare 'insists on the iconic nature of the monarch's body'. Stephen Booth observes, in King Lear the cliche that 'All the world's a stage' has suddenly become so fraught because the play as an event in the lives of its audience. Shakespeare's revulsion from his conflicted desire 'to please you every day' may have been triggered by the sheer number of days on which the King's Men were expected to perform for King James. In the year preceding the tragedy about 'the great stage of fools' the Revels Office listed eleven court appearances by His Majesty's players. Shakespeare devised at the instant of his greatest access to the royal palace should be his retelling of Cinderella. Charles Perrault, the architect who first recorded Cendrillon, had been Colbert's aide for historians 'suggesting and supervising cultural policies to glorify the king'.

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