Tolstoy on Shakespeare
In this manner lengthy conversations go on calling forth in the spectator or reader that wearisome uneasiness which one experiences when listening to jokes which are not witty.
This conversation was interrupted by the approach of Goneril. She demands of her father that he should diminish his retinue; that he should be satisfied with fifty courtiers instead of a hundred. At this suggestion, Lear gets into a strange and unnatural rage, and asks:
"Doth any here know me? This is not Lear: Does Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes? Either his notion weakens, his discernings Are lethargied. Ha! 'tis not so. Who is it that can tell me who I am?"
And so forth.
While this goes on the fool does not cease to interpolate his humorless jokes. Goneril's husband then enters and wishes to appease Lear, but Lear curses Goneril, invoking for her either steri