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Reviews135 resolved. Referring to Mr. Peter's Connections,the last playdiscussed in die book, Otten states diat it is Miller's beliefthat"innocence constitutes die ultimate source ofevil, tiiat it distorts right and wrong and freezes the moral will.... Perhaps no writer in twentieth-century literature has been more certain oforiginal sin than Miller, and more convinced that there is always a price to be paid"(248). Yet somehow that concept of sin does not fully elucidate the mystery tiiat is at the core of all tragedy, and perhaps especially the tragedy of Arthur Miller. In the end, Otten's book and method seems very much like Miller's entire tragic corpus , a place where, in Shakespeare's words, life is"... a mingled yarn, good and ill togedier; our virtues would be proud ifour faults whipp'd them not, and our crimes would despair if they were not cherish'd by our virtues" (All's Well That Ends Well, 4.3.68-71). Gregory W Lanier The University ofWest Florida Christy Desmet and Robert Sawyer, eds. Harold Bloom's Shakespeare.NewYork: Palgrave,2001. Pp.xiv + 292. $55.00. In the course ofassessing die influence ofA. C. Bradley and his landmark 1904 studyShakespearean Tragedy, Katiiarine Cooke commented in 1972 diat"nowa writer would have to have some extrinsic claim to attention in order to be able to write a long critical work on Shakespeare based only on one educated man's reading ofthe text" (?. C. Bradley and his Influence in Twentieth-Century Criticism [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972], 78). Yet Harold Bloom offers exactlythat in Shakespeare: The Invention oftheHuman, published twenty-sixyears after Cooke's comment. Reviewers ofBloom's book have often compared Bloom to Bradley, not only because they perceive botii scholars as "character critics," not only because both have been controversial within the academy and admired, if not beloved, without, but because Bloom has presumptuously (and righdy) presumed that "one educated man's reading of the text" will interest the common reader. It is odd that a scholar of Harold Bloom's stature could take diis radier unscholarly stance; scholarship itself is, of course, the extrinsic claim that ballasts his insistence on die validity of his own reactions to Shakespeare. Among those who teach and work in departments of English, Bloom will be best 136Comparative Drama remembered as the author ofsuch significant works ofcriticism as TheAnxiety ofInfluence (1973), A Map ofMisreading (1975), and Agon (1982). Among undergraduates , Bloom mayhave more influence as the editor ofthe Chelsea House Modern Critical Interpretations series, diose handy collections of "authoritative " commentary. But among diose outside the academy who cherish a love of literature, Bloom will almost certainly be remembered best for die quirky, provocative The Book ofJ (1990) and for his critical best-sellers The Western Canon (1994), How to Read and Why (2000), and The Invention ofthe Human. Bloom is not writing for otiier academics in these books nor even to an academic audience . Rather his purpose in The Invention ofthe Human is to address a specifically nonacademic but well-read audience. Harold Bloom's Shakespeare is a collection ofacademics' essays responding to the phenomenon ofBloom's 1998 blockbuster. The book is divided into four sections: the first treats Bloom's self-professed Bardolatry and its significance; the second addresses Bloom's primary claim that, in William Kerrigan's paraphrase , "Shakespeare invented literary character as we know it, and insofar as we create ourselves in and through literature, Shakespeare has invented us" (33). The diird section looks at Bloom's predecessors in Romantic criticism, often considering the arguments of The Invention ofthe Human in relation to Bloom's earlier, more critically engaged arguments, and the fourth "responds to Bloom's attempt to demonstrate Shakespeare's universalism by writing new, local genealogies and geographies for both Bloom and Shakespeare" (Desmet and Sawyer , Introduction, 14). Of the eighteen essays, the most useful are diose that honesdy consider Bloom's project as its author seems to have conceived it.A counterpoint to those essays is Terence Hawkes's biting commentary (a version of which appeared in the New Statesman) in which he suggests that Bloom's interest in character is both outdated and outmoded. He...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 135-139
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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