Lesley's Reviews > Hamlet: Poem Unlimited

Hamlet by Harold Bloom
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Jul 02, 2010

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bookshelves: shakesepare-adaptations-and-critici
Read from June 30 to July 02, 2010

My husband and I have a perennial bet whenever we read a Bloom Shakespeare critique: how long before he shoehorns in a totally irrelevant or ludicrous comment about Falstaff? This time it was at page 6: Falstaff's command of prose is "greater than that of any other" Shakespearean character...except _possibly_ Hamlet. Okayyyyy...

Falstaffian hyperbole aside, this is actually a pretty good book, once Bloom gets all his harrumphing about "irresponsible" Hamlet productions out of his system. Bloom wrote this as a follow-up to his wonderful _Shakespeare, the Invention of the Human_, fearing he had failed to express all his ideas about Hamlet in one short chapter, (and who could?) Here he has the leisure to explore each character, demonstrating the warmth and affection for these old friends that bespeaks years of reading and writing about a beloved yet perplexing play. I was particularly struck by his evaluations of Ophelia and Gertrude: as an apologist for the "dead white male" canon, Bloom is often accused of patriarchy and downright misogyny, but he demonstrates true empathy and understanding of these two much abused female characters.

Bloom is probably not much fun as a theatre companion, (he admits to having enjoyed only 2 or 3 of the many Hamlets he has seen) but as a guide to the complexities and richness of the text he is unparalleled....except _possibly_ for Marjorie Garber.
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