This is the first fully annotated, critical edition of King Lear to appear for forty years. It includes a comprehensive account of Shakespeare's sources and the literary, political, and folkloric influences at work in the play, a detailed reading of the action, and a substantial stage history of major productions. Jay Halio is concerned to clarify, for those approaching the play for the first time, the vexed question of its textual history. Unlike previous editions, his does not present a conflation of the Quarto and the Folio. Accepting that we have two versions of equal authority, the one derived from Shakespeare's rough drafts, the other from a manuscript used in the playhouses during the seventeenth century, Professor Halio chooses the Folio as the text for this edition. He explains the differences between the two versions and alerts the reader to the rival claims of the Quarto by means of a sampling of parallel passages in the introduction and by an appendix which contains annotated passages unique to the Quarto.