Brett Williams's Reviews > Shakespeare's Politics

Shakespeare's Politics by Allan Bloom
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it was amazing

Bloom has insight into the deepest aspects of humanity. And once again Bloom inspires by penetrating our perpetual present with the permanent and universal. This time he performs that magic through analysis of Shakespeare’s plays, their political message, and Shakespeare’s grasp of what makes us who we are.

Shakespeare’s plays deal with fragile balances of humanity as individuals and as associations with their impossible reconciliations between competing concepts and ideals, which is what both are made of. Like the Jewish and Christian in Venice, their conflicts between what matters most while still members of the same society, which though peaceful and prosperous engages in the simplification of man; the strength and weakness of men in love; the root of tragedy suffered by the hero precisely due to his heroic strengths. Shakespeare acts on so many levels it’s hard to fathom anyone could grasp it all without an escort.

As always, Bloom’s revels in his love of books, disappointed at modernity’s dismissal of them for other pleasures or mindless pursuits. We do not, he writes, “look at all to books when [we] meet problems in life or think about [our] goals; there are no literary models for [our] conceptions of virtue and vise.” Reflecting, “the decay of common understanding of – and agreement on – first principles that is characteristic of our times.” Resulting in a “decided lowering of tone in [our] reflections on life and its goals.” Thus we are “technically well equipped, but Philistine.” But Shakespeare provides an opportunity to see out of this, as do other great authors Bloom was so taken by and wrote about.

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Quotes Brett Liked

Allan Bloom
“The most striking fact about contemporary university students is that there is no longer any canon of books which forms their taste and imagination...This state of affairs itself reflects the deeper fact of the decay of the common understanding of - and agreement on - first principles that is characteristic of our times.”
Allan Bloom, Shakespeare's Politics

Reading Progress

February 17, 2005 – Started Reading
March 26, 2005 – Finished Reading
April 1, 2014 – Shelved

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