, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 50–67 | Cite as

Prophecy and emendation: Merlin, Chaucer, Lear’s Fool

  • Misha TeramuraEmail author
Original Article


This article traces the critical and textual reception of the Fool’s cryptic prophecy in the Folio text of King Lear. I argue that critics have overlooked the widespread early modern circulation of the speech’s main source, six lines of verse ubiquitously known as ‘Chaucer’s Prophecy.’ Reading the Fool’s prophecy as a deliberate riposte to this famous poem, I propose that William Warburton’s 1747 emendation offers the most intertextually engaged and politically subversive text of the speech.



I am grateful to audiences at the 2017 MLA Convention and Stanford University’s Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies for their feedback on earlier versions of this article, and to Katherine Walker and Joseph Bowling for their detailed editorial attention.


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© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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