2003-09-21: Shakespeare [Bloom]


The Invention of the Human (1998)

by Harold Bloom (1930-)

Bloom writes about Shakespeare as a professor of English of many years. His thesis, if indeed a mere subtitle may be counted a thesis, seems to be that Shakespeare introduced human nature into English literature. However, he doesn’t make this explicit in the text, so I may have over-interpreted the subtitle.

The book has a chronological list of the plays and an essay titled “Shakespeare’s Universalism”. These are followed by essays on (I suppose) each of the plays, though not in the order of the chronology. Instead they are grouped in IX categories (“The Early Comedies”, “The Great Tragedies”, etc.).

In each essay, Bloom identifies the character he likes best, and explains why. Eventually, the reader realizes Bloom especially likes Rosalind (As You Like It) and Falstaff (Henry IV). As I haven’t read either of these, I am now encouraged to do so.

He also likes Cleopatra (Antony and Cleopatra) and Hamlet quite a bit.


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