Tom Lanoye made his debut in 1985 with the semi-autobiographical novel Een slagerszoon met een brilletje (A Butcher’s Son with Glasses). Since then, he has emerged as a born performer, literary jukebox, influential media figure and one of the most widely read authors in his language region. He is a literary jack-of-all-trades who not only has novels to his name, but has also acquired fame for his plays, short story collections, columns, essays, poetry anthologies and solo theatre shows. His breakthrough with the mainstream audience came with the majestic Monster Trilogy. In the theatre world, he collaborated with Luk Perceval to stretch his boundaries with Ten oorlog (To War, 1997), his adaptation of the royal tragedies of Shakespeare, which were also performed in Germany and Austria as Schlachten!. Sprakeloos (Speechless, 2009), a monumental portrait of his mother and her gradual loss of speech and decline after a stroke was a huge success. Lanoye has won countless awards for his work, and received the Golden Goose Feather and the Constantijn Huygens Prize for his entire body of work in 2007 and 2013 respectively. The Constantijn Huygens Prize jury called the collected works of Lanoye ‘in one word, breathtaking’.
Verlag der Autoren, 2016
Translated by Rainer Kersten
Original title: Koningin Lear (Prometheus, 2015)
Shakespeare’s Lear is an old medieval king. Tom Lanoye’s Lear is an elderly and contemporary ‘Leading Lady’ by the name of Elizabeth Lear. Throughout the years, she has expanded her father’s regional family business into a giant multinational corporation. On the eve of a global banking crisis, she, unexpectedly, divides her company amongst her three sons. In return, she wants only their love and gratitude. But the youngest son refuses, and the consequences are unforeseeable.
With King Lear, Tom Lanoye draws a picture of an aging captain of industry, who has lost sight of reality and no longer uses her own position of power to solve real issues—Lear is only preoccupied with her popularity and reputation. The result is a multifaceted and tragic battle. As always ‘fused in masterful poetry’—as Lanoye’s last Shakespeare-adaptation Hamlet versus Hamlet was described by de Volkskrant.