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2 Beaverton Drama- Shakespeare Criticism

Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human

by

Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human Cover

 

Awards

A National Book Award Finalist
A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A New York Times Notable Book
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year
A Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club
An ALA Booklist Editors Choice for 1998

Synopses & Reviews

From Powells.com:

Harold Bloom is America's most formidable living literary critic, possibly the closest thing we have to an intellectual icon. With his opinionated, controversial 1994 bestseller, The Western Canon, Bloom lambasted the so-called "School of Resentment" (by which he meant all multiculturalists, Marxists, feminists, neoconservatists, Afrocentrists, New Historicists, and their friends), creating a national controversy that not only made him as many enemies as it did friends, but also overshadowed the undisputed merits of his book. Though Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human has not sparked the same national debate, it is intellectually no less audacious. More than 400 years after his death, Shakespeare's plays are produced, on both stage and screen, far more than any other single writer's. Many critics have explained that Shakespeare continues to fascinate because his characters embodied universal human qualities better than any other writer before or since. Bloom takes this a step further. He argues that we keep coming back to Shakespeare not because he created superior characters — though of course he did — but because he invented the modern conception of character itself, an idea that has had a revolutionary impact on western culture. The ideas we use today to define ourselves as human were first developed by Shakespeare through the creation of Hamlet, Falstaff, Iago, Cleopatra, Macbeth, Rosalind, Lear, and the rest. The culmination of a life's work reading, writing about, and teaching Shakespeare, Bloom's masterwork is indispensable for anyone interested in the works of Shakespeare, the history of ideas, or in simply exploring what it means to be a human being. C. P. Farley, Powells.com

Publisher Comments:

Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human is the culmination of Harold Bloom's life's work in reading, writing about, and teaching Shakespeare. It is his passionate and convincing analysis of the way in which Shakespeare not merely represented human nature as we know it today, but actually created it: before Shakespeare, there was characterization; after Shakespeare, there was character, men and women with highly individual personalities — Hamlet, Falstaff, Iago, Cleopatra, Macbeth, Rosalind, and Lear, among them.

In making his argument, Bloom leads us through a brilliant and comprehensive reading of every one of Shakespeare's plays. According to a New York Times report on Shakespeare last year, "more people are watching him, reading him, and studying him than ever before." Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human is a landmark contribution, a book that will be celebrated and read for many years to come. It explains why Shakespeare has remained our most popular playwright for more than four hundred years, and in helping us to understand ourselves through literature, it restores the role of critic to one of central importance to our culture.

Review:

"You don't have to swallow Bloom's argument whole...to value his local insights. The most exhilarating observations...have the quality of aphorisms." James Shapiro, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"It is a fiercely argued exegesis of Shakespeare's plays in the tradition of Samuel Johnson, Hazlitt, and A.C. Bradley, a study that is as passionate as it is erudite, as provocative as it is sometimes perverse....[I]t's hard not to be impressed by [Bloom's] overall knowledge of and insight into his subject's work." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Review:

"[Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human] is a huge cloak-bag of ideas, stuffed with true wisdom and false bombast in equal measure. It breaks the rules, but demands to be forgiven because it is alive and full of magnanimity. It is a feast." Jonathan Bate, The Wall Street Journal

Review:

"In The Western Canon, Bloom aired the notion that Shakespeare 'invented us.' Now he surveys the plays to lay out evidence for that extraordinary claim. He revives a tradition that all but died early in this century: considering the plays' characters as the most fruitful way of reading Shakespeare....Is it convincing? Bloom's thesis is that Shakespeare...invented what we define as personality by inventing characters of unlimited depth, interiority, and self-creation. Only Chaucer comes close to doing this before Shakespeare, and Shakespeare's contemporaries show nothing of his confounding of art and nature. Freud, in such a view, just plagiarizes Shakespeare, as do we all. Bloom can go on a little too long about Falstaff, whom he admires more than all other Shakespearean characters, but so brilliant, so probing is his criticism that he virtually compels the reader to test his thesis by rereading the plays with equal dedication. This is pure Bloom, delightful and provocative, literary criticism at its very finest." Booklist

Review:

"A magisterial survey of the Bard's complete dramatic oeuvre....[Bloom's] emphasis [on character] makes the author an engaging explicator of the comedies, histories, and some aspects of the tragedies, which all feature personalities remarkable for their 'inwardness'; his masterpieces are the discussions of the anguished, antic skeptic Hamlet and the jovial pragmatist Falstaff, whom he claims as 'the fullest representations of human possibility in Shakespeare.' Bloom is less effective with late works like The Winter's Tale, in which the Bard largely abandoned psychological realism in favor of a visionary mood that seems to make the critic uncomfortable....In short, the author offers a personal view with inevitable omissions and weaknesses (unnecessary repetition and gratuitous polemics against political correctness among them). Nonetheless, this is a splendid book: elegantly written, scholarly yet accessible, radiant with Bloom's love for Shakespeare in particular and literature in general. Less interesting as a salvo in the ongoing culture wars than as an old-fashioned exercise in narrative criticism for the general reader and, as such, very nearly perfect." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"An enraptured, incantatory epic...dazzling...You could hardly ask for a more capacious and beneficent work than Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human." The New Yorker

Review:

"Bloom has given us the crowning achievement of his career....If any piece of literary criticism can have a practical effect — on our stage and imaginations — this is the one." Salon

Review:

"Bloom's analysis is much more than guidance for the befuddled undergraduate or season ticket holder — readers will need to be familiar with at least the rough outline of a play in order to follow much of what Bloom argues. This is a challenging, well-argued, and quite entertaining book that will leave readers both agreeing with and arguing against its thesis." Library Journal

Review:

"Bloom may feel spent after 745 pages, but his essays will energize readers to go right out and pick up — or see — a play." Jodie Morse, Time Magazine

About the Author

Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University, Berg professor of English at New York University, and a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. The author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling The Western Canon, Omens of Millennium, and The Book of J, he is a MacArthur Prize fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees. The New York Times has called him "Man of the Millennium."

Product Details

ISBN:
9781573221207
Subtitle:
The World as Stage (Eminent Lives)
Author:
Bloom, Harold
Publisher:
Riverhead Hardcover
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Shakespeare
Subject:
Drama
Subject:
History & Criticism *
Subject:
History and criticism
Subject:
Characters and characteristics in literature
Subject:
Humanism in literature.
Subject:
General Literary Criticism & Collections
Copyright:
Publication Date:
19981026
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
745
Dimensions:
9.52x6.48x2.19 in. 2.65 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Shakespeare » Criticism
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human Used Hardcover
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$8.95 In Stock
Product details 745 pages Riverhead Books - English 9781573221207 Reviews:
"Review" by , "You don't have to swallow Bloom's argument whole...to value his local insights. The most exhilarating observations...have the quality of aphorisms."
"Review" by , "It is a fiercely argued exegesis of Shakespeare's plays in the tradition of Samuel Johnson, Hazlitt, and A.C. Bradley, a study that is as passionate as it is erudite, as provocative as it is sometimes perverse....[I]t's hard not to be impressed by [Bloom's] overall knowledge of and insight into his subject's work."
"Review" by , "[Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human] is a huge cloak-bag of ideas, stuffed with true wisdom and false bombast in equal measure. It breaks the rules, but demands to be forgiven because it is alive and full of magnanimity. It is a feast."
"Review" by , "In The Western Canon, Bloom aired the notion that Shakespeare 'invented us.' Now he surveys the plays to lay out evidence for that extraordinary claim. He revives a tradition that all but died early in this century: considering the plays' characters as the most fruitful way of reading Shakespeare....Is it convincing? Bloom's thesis is that Shakespeare...invented what we define as personality by inventing characters of unlimited depth, interiority, and self-creation. Only Chaucer comes close to doing this before Shakespeare, and Shakespeare's contemporaries show nothing of his confounding of art and nature. Freud, in such a view, just plagiarizes Shakespeare, as do we all. Bloom can go on a little too long about Falstaff, whom he admires more than all other Shakespearean characters, but so brilliant, so probing is his criticism that he virtually compels the reader to test his thesis by rereading the plays with equal dedication. This is pure Bloom, delightful and provocative, literary criticism at its very finest."
"Review" by , "A magisterial survey of the Bard's complete dramatic oeuvre....[Bloom's] emphasis [on character] makes the author an engaging explicator of the comedies, histories, and some aspects of the tragedies, which all feature personalities remarkable for their 'inwardness'; his masterpieces are the discussions of the anguished, antic skeptic Hamlet and the jovial pragmatist Falstaff, whom he claims as 'the fullest representations of human possibility in Shakespeare.' Bloom is less effective with late works like The Winter's Tale, in which the Bard largely abandoned psychological realism in favor of a visionary mood that seems to make the critic uncomfortable....In short, the author offers a personal view with inevitable omissions and weaknesses (unnecessary repetition and gratuitous polemics against political correctness among them). Nonetheless, this is a splendid book: elegantly written, scholarly yet accessible, radiant with Bloom's love for Shakespeare in particular and literature in general. Less interesting as a salvo in the ongoing culture wars than as an old-fashioned exercise in narrative criticism for the general reader and, as such, very nearly perfect."
"Review" by , "An enraptured, incantatory epic...dazzling...You could hardly ask for a more capacious and beneficent work than Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human."
"Review" by , "Bloom has given us the crowning achievement of his career....If any piece of literary criticism can have a practical effect — on our stage and imaginations — this is the one."
"Review" by , "Bloom's analysis is much more than guidance for the befuddled undergraduate or season ticket holder — readers will need to be familiar with at least the rough outline of a play in order to follow much of what Bloom argues. This is a challenging, well-argued, and quite entertaining book that will leave readers both agreeing with and arguing against its thesis."
"Review" by , "Bloom may feel spent after 745 pages, but his essays will energize readers to go right out and pick up — or see — a play."
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