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Lear: The Great Image of Authority Reprint Edition
Contributor(s): Bloom, Harold

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ISBN: 1501164201     ISBN-13: 9781501164200
Publisher: Scribner
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Binding Type: Paperback
Published: April 2019

Annotation: From one of the greatest Shakespeare scholars of our time, a beloved professor who has taught the Bard for over half a century—an intimate, wise, deeply compelling portrait of Lear, arguably Shakespeare’s most tragic and compelling character, the third in a series of five short books hailed as Harold Bloom’s “last love letter to the shaping spirit of his imagination” (The New York Times Book Review).

King Lear is one of the most famous and compelling characters in literature. The aged, abused monarch—a man in his eighties, like Bloom himself—is at once the consummate figure of authority and the classic example of the fall from grace and widely agreed to be Shakespeare’s most moving, tragic hero.

Award-winning writer and beloved professor Harold Bloom writes about Lear with wisdom, joy, exuberance, and compassion. He also explores his own personal relationship to the character: Just as we encounter one Anna Karenina or Jay Gatsby when we are seventeen and another when we are forty, Bloom writes about his shifting understanding—over the course of his own lifetime—of this endlessly compelling figure, so that the book also becomes an extraordinarily moving argument for literature as a path to and a measure of our humanity.

Bloom is mesmerizing in the classroom, wrestling with the often tragic choices Shakespeare’s characters make. Now he brings that insight to his “measured, thoughtful assessment of a key play in the Shakespeare canon” (Kirkus Reviews). “Lear is a “short, superb book that has a depth of observation acquired from a lifetime of study” (Publishers Weekly).

Click for more in this series: Shakespeare's Personalities
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Literary Criticism | Shakespeare
- Literary Criticism | Drama
Dewey: 820
Academic/Grade Level: General Adult
Series: Shakespeare's Personalities
Book type: Non-Fiction
Physical Information: 8.25" H x 5.25" W x 0.75" (0.32 lbs) 160 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2017 September #3)

At the outset of this pithy exegesis of King Lear, Bloom (Falstaff: Give Me Life) describes the play's title character as, along with Hamlet, one of Shakespeare's "most challenging personalities," in part because "his violent expressionism desires us to experience his inmost being, but we lack the resources to receive that increasing chaos." As in other books in his Shakespeare's Personalities series, Bloom guides the reader scene by scene through the play, quoting long but well-chosen swaths of text and interjecting commentary that reveals the nuances of Shakespeare's word choices—for example, repeated references to nature, natural, and the unnatural, whose ominous repetition throughout the text foreshadows the depths of degradation to which Lear and the other characters will descend by the play's end. He is also deft at bringing out dramatic contrasts between characters, notably the juxtaposition of the Earl of Gloucester's loyal but naive son Edgar and his devious "bastard" son Edmund, as well as parallels between characters—for example, between Lear and Gloucester, both of whom are betrayed by their children, or between Cordelia and the Fool, each of whom is chastised for speaking honestly. Bloom's short, superb book has a depth of observation acquired from a lifetime of study, and the author knows when to let Shakespeare and his play speak for themselves. Agent: Glen Hartley, Writers' Representatives. (Apr. 2018)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.
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