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Dec 7, 2022

In today's episode, we are joined by Professor Arthur W. Frank to discuss his new work, King Lear: Shakespeare's Dark Consolations, part of Oxford University Press's My Reading series. We discuss Frank's work outside of the realm of Shakespeare, what drew him to Shakespeare and King Lear, and how the play can offer insight into our own lives. 

As part of the My Reading series, King Lear is a personal meditation on a great literary work. Arthur Frank brings a career of studying illness experience and suffering to consider how King Lear can aid people whose lives need help. Reading King Lear leads Frank to both an encounter with his own old age and a source of consolation-companionship—in his future. This book doesnot try to minimize vulnerabilities, but it shows what is fully human, and thus shared, in suffering. The book introduces readers to King Lear, and it invites those who know the play to a new consideration for its ability to affect people's lives.

Arthur Frank spent his career teaching at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He haslectured internationally, holding visiting professorships in England and Australia. His work has focused on the experience of serious illness, beginning with his memoir, At the Will of the Body and his most cited work, The Wounded Storyteller. He is an elected member of the Royal Society of Canada and recipient of the Career Achievement Award from the Canadian Bioethics Society.

What is it like to love a book or author? Who has most influenced or challenged your life or work? Whose standing would you most wish to enhance or rescue? What is like to have a thought or idea, doubt or memory, not cold and in abstract, but live in the very act of reading? What is it like to feel, long after, that this writer is a vital part of your life?

My Reading invites authors from across academia and the professions to focus their attentions upon the work of a single literary writer. They tell us what it’s like to care about an author, strive to recreate through specific examples imaginative versions of what those authors and works represent, and seek to share their effect upon the reader’s own thinking and development.

Other titles currently available in the My Reading series as below, with more to follow in 2023.
• Samuel Beckett – Rosemarie Bodenheimer
• Honoré de Balzac – Peter Brooks
• William James – Philip Davis
• Charles Dickens – Annette Federico

Shakespeare Anyone? is created and produced by Kourtney Smith and Elyse Sharp.

Note: When this episode was recorded, Kourtney Smith was using the stage name "Korey Leigh Smith".

Music is "Neverending Minute" by Sounds Like Sander.

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Works referenced:

Frank, Arthur W. King Lear: Shakespeare's Dark Consolations. Oxford University Press, 2022.