“This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as nontraditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank . . . If that’s the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story!”
Apparently, this is going to be my summer of “literature classics the way I wish they had been written.” First, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and now a new take on King Lear. (By the way, I just requested an ARC of Mr, Darcy, Vampire, so there could be more Mangled Classics in store.)
In Honors English, I was not terribly fond of King Lear, although I like Shakespeare in general. The play just had too many betrayals, too many people meeting bad ends when they deserved better (I know, I know, tragedy and all that) for me to really enjoy it, but I didn’t care about them enough to be really moved by it. This is a tale that would never have made it past the high school censors, but that every student would be able to recite, chapter and verse. This isn’t just a story about a king and his daughters. According to Pocket, King Lear’s jester and his apprentice, Drool, this is a story about just one thing…heinous fuckery. Indeed, heinous fuckery most foul.
There are dozens of passages I could quote, but most of them are PG-13 at best, R-rated through most of the book, and a couple of passages would garner an NC-17. There is plenty of bonking, shagging, wanking, and humping. The players are described as dog-frothing mad, flesh-tearing harpies, craven hose-beast, catch-fart and other things I couldn’t repeat in a blog tht children might read. There are buckets of bat wank, monkey spunk, camel spit and git-seed; if that sort of thing offends you, steer well clear of this book. And in case you have trouble with some of the more archaic words and phrases, Moore helpfully provides definitions:
1. Saturnalia – the celebration of the winter solstice in the Roman pantheon, paying tribute ot Saturn, the “sower of seeds.” Celebrations involved much drunkenness and indiscriminate shagging. Observed in modern times by the ritual of the “office Christmas party.”
Moore plays a little fast and loose with the Bard’s work (thank heavens), adding some intrigue, some witches, a number of bawdy songs and a lot of indiscriminate shagging. He admits to having made “a dog’s breakfast of English history, geography, King Lear, and the English language in general.” The role of the Fool is far larger in his version, Pocket being the hand behind the scenes that turns the wheels and directs the action. Of course, he doesn’t always know precisely what he’s doing, but he follows the directions he gets from the girl-ghost haunting the castle (there’s always a bloody ghost) and he has good instincts. The ending is much happier — at least for some characters — than in the original, but then, in the original, just about everybody ends up dead. Here, too, some players meet an untimely and violent end, but that’s to be expected.
I found myself quite wrapped up in the Fool’s story. Pocket has not had an easy life (although it was considerably more pleasant than that of Thalia, the anchoress who befriends him as an orphan boy). He cares deeply for his friend and apprentice, Drool, and is infuriated when Drool is mistreated. Although he shows a rough and tumble exterior, there are a few instances that reveal the soft underbelly, such as his sadness at the fate of his little horse, Rose.
All in all, this book kept me giggling all the way through. It was a quick read, as I was caught up and swept along from the very beginning. It was precisely the sort of entertainment I needed on this business trip. One thing is for certain — the next time I see King Lear, I will be stifling giggles as I watch the tragedy unfold.