Nobody, Somebody, and King Lear

Womack, Peter ORCID: (2007) Nobody, Somebody, and King Lear. New Theatre Quarterly, 23 (3). pp. 195-207. ISSN 1474-0613

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


The approximately contemporary Jacobean plays, King Lear and Nobody and Somebody, share an ancient British setting, a preoccupation with instability in the state, and an unsettling interest in negation. Peter Womack here suggests that by reading them together we can retrieve some of the theatrical strangeness which the more famous of the two has lost through familiarity and naturalization. The dramatic mode of existence of the character called ‘Nobody’ is paradoxical, denaturing – an early modern visual and verbal Verfremdungseffekt, at once philosophical and clownish. His negativity, which is articulated in dialogue with the companion figure of ‘Somebody’, is matched in King Lear, above all in the role of Edgar, but also by a more diffused state of being (withdrawal, effacement, folly) which the play generates in reaction to its positive events. Ultimately the negation in both plays is social in character: ‘Nobody’ is the dramatic face of the poor and oppressed. Peter Womack teaches literature at the University of East Anglia. His most recent book is English Renaissance Drama (2006), in the Blackwell Guides to Literature series.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing (former - to 2011)

Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Medieval and Early Modern Research Group
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2010 13:56
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2023 10:30
DOI: 10.1017/S0266464X07000103

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item