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Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human Paperback – September 1, 1999
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It is a long and fascinating itinerary, and one littered with thousands of sharp insights. Listen to Bloom on Romeo and Juliet: "The Nurse and Mercutio, both of them audience favorites, are nevertheless bad news, in different but complementary ways." On The Merchant of Venice: "To reduce him to contemporary theatrical terms, Shylock would be an Arthur Miller protagonist displaced into a Cole Porter musical, Willy Loman wandering about in Kiss Me Kate." On As You Like It: "Rosalind is unique in Shakespeare, perhaps indeed in Western drama, because it is so difficult to achieve a perspective upon her that she herself does not anticipate and share." Bloom even offers some belated vocational counseling to Falstaff, identifying him as an Elizabethan Mr. Chips: "Falstaff is more than skeptical, but he is too much of a teacher (his true vocation, more than highwayman) to follow skepticism out to its nihilistic borders, as Hamlet does."
In the end, it doesn't matter very much whether we agree with all or any of these ideas. What does matter is that Bloom's capacious book sends us hurrying back to some of the central texts of our civilization. "The ultimate use of Shakespeare," the author asserts, "is to let him teach you to think too well, to whatever truth you can sustain without perishing." Bloom himself has made excellent use of his hero's instruction, and now he teaches us all to do the same. --Daniel Hintzsche --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
But remember, Bloom was not just your average guy chewing his cud -- he's probably the most well-read and brilliant reader of our generation. Due to a sleep disorder that he had, he often would stay up all night and would typically consume several volumes of literature in one evening. So, when forced to listen to his musings, there are many kernels of brilliance that make their way to the surface. Many professors have begrudged him his popular success, but by avoiding jargon, Bloom does us all a service by popularizing Shakespeare for everyday readers and making us want to go back and read and reread Shakespeare. At the very least, these chapters will make you run to a bookstore to read more Shakespeare -- how can you criticize anyone who instills a passion for literature?Read more ›
Naturally, critics of Bloom have taken great exception to sweeping statements such as the above and their general reaction is one of resentment. Individual critical response depends on what particular school of criticism the respondent adheres to, but most often critics and readers alike have simply attacked Bloom, himself. However, even those who denigrate both Bloom and this book have found the time to read and review it to a greater extent, rather than to a lesser.
The book, itself, is made up of three major critical discussions by Bloom combined with brief discussions of each of Shakespeare's thirty-seven plays. Bloom begins by expressing his awe at Shakespeare's ability to create literary characters who epitomize the quintessential nature of humanity itself. In Bloom's opinion, Shakespeare shapes all of humanity, not just the elite literati.
Bloom does acknowledge the fact that great writers existed before Shakespeare and says that, "The idea of Western character" defined as "the self as a moral agent" came from many sources at many different times.Read more ›
Bloom is a great teacher and it is hard for me to find the words to explain how grateful I am for this book.
I should start off by saying what it is not. Even though it discusses each of the 39 plays it is not at all a compendium surveying the plays. This is a book with a specific thesis and discusses the plays in terms of that thesis. The idea, if I understand Bloom correctly, is that Shakespeare's understanding of the human creature; the nature of our lives as human creatures, combined with Shakespeare's preternatural artistic gifts has actually changed our understanding of what it is to be human.
Like all truly great artists, what we think of them says nothing about the artist, but everything about us. Shakespeare is such a potent cultural influence that he informs the lives of those who have never heard of him, who have never read his plays, and even those who don't speak a syllable of English.
Bloom has read so widely and so deeply that he has much to share with us. I am glad for his courage to speak against the fashions of our time and to tell the truth about our post-literate stage of thinking. However, feel free to disagree with him (and especially with me).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When you first get the book you wonder can Professor Bloom really keep you interested in Shakespeare for nearly 800 pages. Yes, he can and with elan. Read morePublished 4 months ago by John T Fielding
Bloom really thinks that Shakespeare invented the modern concept of being human and our experience of being human. The evidence, however, is lacking. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Reeve Weere
Accessibly and delightfully written, very insightful, sometimes hilariously or wickedly entertaining. Read morePublished 8 months ago by McDuff
If art teaches us how to see in a new way then Shakespeare reinvented the world. He literally recreated the English language and our sense of self to do so. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Kyle Baird
Beautiful edition of book. I hope to learn more about the writings of Shakespeare. Harold Bloom is one of my favorite authors of non-fiction. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Sally Martin
I've only started to dabble in this enormous volume, but so far I'm enjoying it. Bloom is indebted to Goddard, as are so many Shakespeare critics, for good reason. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Eric Meub