Matt's Reviews > Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human

Shakespeare by Harold Bloom
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's review
Feb 04, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended for: humans, and very mature chimpanzees.

The subtitle deliberately goads anyone who came of age after 1960 to pull the Eurocentric card. And given the amount of time Bloom has spent of late on a personal crusade against the Harry Potter series, you almost wonder if Bloom has landed a few steps to the wrong side of the line between provocative and senile. (It is puzzling to say the least that such a brilliant critic feels the need to officially weigh in -- vocally and repeatedly -- on an already critically agreed-upon observation about the literary value of the Potter stories. Of COURSE the writing is trite and repetitive, Bloomie. Shouldn't you be writing more essays on Hamlet?)

Well, postcolonialists looking for a winning fight should go back to dusty old Conrad works. Bloom's leviathan is just too good. And you don't have to buy into the idea that Shakespeare was the progenitor of limning the human consciousness in literature to find ye some beauty and truth in Bloom's essays about the myriad (and often quite surprising) ways in which the Bard explores the underpinnings of homo sapiens sapiens.

In other words, you don't need to think Shakespeare was the first writer to perform an autopsy on the human soul to concede how successful he perfected the procedure. I consult this book in the same way that I consult a dictionary or other large reference one can't imagine functioning without.
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