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Vaughans Vocabulary Recent readings from King Lear...

November 30, 2010

In “The History of King Lear,” Stanley Wells points out that the play was first printed in 1608 in “The True Chronicle History of King Lear” and known as the First Quarto. The text resembles others believed to have been printed from the original papers in that it represents a manuscript intended for performance but bearing no indications of revision, or even annotation, as a result of performance. Wells says that all other versions adapted this, “more or less radically, and none of the play’s progeny could have existed without it.”
Like all editions of Shakespeare’s plays printed in his lifetime, KL is not divided into acts and scenes. This week’s words are from my recent reading.

1. quarto (KWAWR-toe)
A. a great work, the chief work of a writer
B. one-fourth of a play equivalent to Act I.
C. the last fourth of a play equivalent to the last Act.
D. a book size of about 9 and one-half by 12 inches, determined by folding printed sheets twice to form four leaves or 8 pages.

According to Wells, quarto is a technical term describing a book made up of a number of sheets of paper that have been folded twice, producing four leaves each.

2. heath (HEETH)
A. subplot
B. open and uncultivated land
C. an unfinished play
D. shed

A storm rages on the heath and Lear is in it. B is the answer.

3. double entendre (DUHB-uhl ahn-TAHN-druh)
A. two actors on stage who forget their lines
B. a word or expression used in a given context so that it can be understood in two ways, especially when one meaning is risque
C. two doors
D. a pouting grimace
In double entendres the Fool expresses to Lear what a big mistake he has made in handing his kingdom over to two daughters who do not love him. B is the answer.

4. foppery (FOP-uh-ree)
A. the clothes, manners, actions
B. Christmas decorations
C. tree branches in front of windows
D. ostentation

Edmond said, “This is the excellent foppery of the world.”
Aside from A, foppery means foolish character or action.
Last week’s mystery word was chivy.
This week’s mystery word to solve can be used as a verb, noun and adjective. According to, as an adjective this word means “being faint for lack of food.” It and the name of a character in the aforementioned play are homophones.

Contact Don Vaughan at

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