Harold Bloom, the doyen of American literary critics and author of The Western Canon, has spent a professional lifetime reading, writing about and teaching Shakespeare. In this magisterial interpretation, Bloom explains Shakespeare's genius in a radical and provocative re-reading of the plays. How to understand Shakespeare, whose ability so far exceeds his predecessors and successors, whose genius has defied generations of critics' explanations, whose work is of greater influence in the modern age even than the Bible? This book is a visionary summation of Harold Bloom's reading of Shakespeare and in it he expounds a brilliant and far-reaching critical theory: that Shakespeare was, through his dramatic characters, the inventor of human personality as we have come to understand it. In short, Shakespeare invented our understanding of ourselves. He knows us better than we do: 'The plays remain the outward limit of human achievement: aesthetically, cognitively, in certain ways morally, even spiritually. They abide beyond the end of the mind's reach; we cannot catch up to them. Shakespeare will go on explaining us in part because he invented us! ' In a chronological survey of each of the plays, Bloom explores the supra-human personalities of Shakespeare's great protagonists: Hamlet, Lear, Falstaff, Rosalind, Juliet. They represent the apogee of Shakespeare's art, that art which is Britain's most powerful and dominant cultural contribution to the world, here vividly recovered by an inspired and wise scholar at the height of his powers. / One of the most important works of literary criticism in years / Harold Bloom is a world expert on literature / 'A fine work! filled with animation and fired by a determination to extol the virtues of great literature' Peter Ackroyd / "I cannot think of any other contemporary critic whose company is so easy to keep or enjoy' Daily Telegraph
Described in the New York Times as ' a colossus among critics ! [with] an encyclopedic intellect, exuberant eccentricity, a massive love of literature. The legend of his genius spans four decades', Harold Bloom was born to a Yiddish-speaking family and learnt to speak English by reading the works of William Blake. He studied at Cornell, Pembroke College Cambridge and Yale, and is Professor of Humanities at Yale and Professor of English at New York Universities, a regular contributor to literary journals and the recipient of many prizes and awards.
'Brilliant... a Shakespearean reading of Shakespeare which is rich in asides and incidentals.' Robert Nye, Sunday Telegraph 'Harold Bloom is the leading literary critic of our time... a superb advocate for the reality and influence of Shakespeare... Bloom, a great critic, also lives his literary criticism, enacts it in his soul.' James Wood, Guardian