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Midsummer Night's Dream


A Midsummer Night's Dream's complexities are extraordinary. This ethereal fantasy involves four different levels of representation that intermingle but never wholly fuse. This invaluable new study guide to one of Shakespeare's greatest plays contains a selection of the finest criticism through the centuries on A Midsummer Night's Dream, including commentaries by such important writers as John Milton, Samuel Johnson, William Hazlitt, G. K. Chesterton, C. L. Barber, and many others. Students will also benefit from ...
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A Midsummer Night's Dream's complexities are extraordinary. This ethereal fantasy involves four different levels of representation that intermingle but never wholly fuse. This invaluable new study guide to one of Shakespeare's greatest plays contains a selection of the finest criticism through the centuries on A Midsummer Night's Dream, including commentaries by such important writers as John Milton, Samuel Johnson, William Hazlitt, G. K. Chesterton, C. L. Barber, and many others. Students will also benefit from the additional features in this volume, including an introduction by Harold Bloom, an accessible summary of the plot, an analysis of several key passages, a comprehensive list of characters, a biography of Shakespeare, essays discussing the main currents of criticism in each century since Shakespeare's time, and more.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791095959
  • Publisher: Facts on File, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Series: Bloom's Shakespeare through the Ages Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
One of our most popular, respected, and controversial literary critics, Yale University professor Harold Bloom’s books – about, variously, Shakespeare, the Bible, and the classic literature – are as erudite as they are accessible.


"Authentic literature doesn't divide us," the scholar and literary critic Harold Bloom once said. "It addresses itself to the solitary individual or consciousness." Revered and sometimes reviled as a champion of the Western canon, Bloom insists on the importance of reading authors such as Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer -- not because they transmit certain approved cultural values, but because they transcend the limits of culture, and thus enlarge rather than constrict our sense of what it means to be human. As Bloom explained in an interview, "Shakespeare is the true multicultural author. He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere. Everyone feels that they are represented by him on the stage."

Bloom began his career by tackling the formidable legacy of T.S. Eliot, who had dismissed the English Romantic poets as undisciplined nature-worshippers. Bloom construed the Romantic poets' visions of immortality as rebellions against nature, and argued that an essentially Romantic imagination was still at work in the best modernist poets.

Having restored the Romantics to critical respectability, Bloom advanced a more general theory of poetry. His now-famous The Anxiety of Influence argued that any strong poem is a creative "misreading" of the poet's predecessor. The book raised, as the poet John Hollander wrote, "profound questions about... how the prior visions of other poems are, for a true poet, as powerful as his own dreams and as formative as his domestic childhood." In addition to developing this theory, Bloom wrote several books on sacred texts. In The Book of J, he suggested that some of the oldest parts of the Bible were written by a woman.

The Book of J was a bestseller, but it was the 1994 publication of The Western Canon that made the critic-scholar a household name. In it, Bloom decried what he called the "School of Resentment" and the use of political correctness as a basis for judging works of literature. His defense of the threatened canon formed, according to The New York Times, a "passionate demonstration of why some writers have triumphantly escaped the oblivion in which time buries almost all human effort."

Bloom placed Shakespeare along with Dante at the center of the Western canon, and he made another defense of Shakespeare's centrality with Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, an illuminating study of Shakespeare's plays. How to Read and Why (2000) revisited Shakespeare and other writers in the Bloom pantheon, and described the act of reading as both a spiritual exercise and an aesthetic pleasure.

Recently, Bloom took up another controversial stance when he attacked Harry Potter in an essay for The Wall Street Journal. His 2001 book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages advanced an alternative to contemporary children's lit, with a collection of classic works of literature "worthy of rereading" by people of all ages.

The poet and editor David Lehman said that "while there are some critics who are known for a certain subtlety and a certain judiciousness, there are other critics... who radiate ferocious passion." Harold Bloom is a ferociously passionate reader for whom literary criticism is, as he puts it, "the art of making what is implicit in the text as finely explicit as possible."

Good To Know

Bloom earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1955 and was hired as a Yale faculty member that same year. In 1965, at the age of 35, he became one of the youngest scholars in Yale history to be appointed full professor in the department of English. He is now Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale and Berg Visiting Professor of English at New York University.

Though some conservative commentators embraced Bloom's canon as a return to traditional moral values, Bloom, who once styled himself "a Truman Democrat," dismisses attempts by both left- and right-wingers to politicize literature. "To read in the service of any ideology is not, in my judgment, to read at all," he told a New York Times interviewer.

His great affinity for Shakespeare has put Bloom in the unlikely position of stage actor on occasion; he has played his "literary hero," port-loving raconteur Sir John Falstaff, in three productions.

Bloom is married to Jeanne, a retired school psychologist whom he met while a junior faculty member at Yale in the 1950s. They have two sons.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Harold Irving Bloom (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York and New Haven, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 11, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cornell University, 1951; Ph.D., Yale University, 1955

Table of Contents

Series Introduction     ix
Introduction   Harold Bloom     xi
Biography of William Shakespeare     1
Summary of A Midsummer Night's Dream     5
Key Passages in A Midsummer Night's Dream     17
List of Characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream     39
Criticism Through the Ages     43
Sources of A Midsummer Night's Dream     45
A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Seventeenth Century     47
1633-from "L'Allegro"   John Milton     49
1692-from The Diary of Samuel Pepys   Samuel Pepys     51
1692-(attributed to Elkanah Settle), from The Fairy Queen$dAnonymous     52
A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Eighteenth Century     53
1708-from Roscius Anglicanus   John Downes     54
1765-from Reliques of Ancient English Poetry   Thomas Percy     54
1765-"A Midsummer Night's Dream," from Notes on Shakespeare's Plays   Samuel Johnson     55
A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Nineteenth Century     61
1809-from A Course of Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature, tr. John Black   August Wilhelm von Schlegel     63
1817-"The Midsummer Night's Dream," from Characters of Shakespear's Plays   WilliamHazlitt     64
1838-from "Shakspeare"   Thomas DeQuincey     66
1845-"Midsummer-Night's Dream," from Shakespeare Commentaries   G.G. Gervinus     67
1872-from Shakspere: A Critical Study of His Mind and Art   Edward Dowden     80
1880-"A Midsummer Night's Dream," from Shakespeare: His Life, Art, and Characters   H.N. Hudson     81
A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Twentieth Century     95
1904-"A Midsummer Night's Dream," from Chesterton on Shakespeare   Gilbert Keith Chesterton     98
1939-"A Midsummer Night's Dream," from Shakespeare   Mark Van Doren     105
1951-"A Midsummer-Night's Dream," from The Meaning of Shakespeare   Harold Goddard     111
1959-"May Games and Metamorphoses on a Midsummer Night," from Shakespeare's Festive Comedy: A Study of Dramatic Form and its Relation to Social Custom   C.L. Barber     118
1974-"A Midsummer Night's Dream," from Shakespeare's Comedy of Love   Alexander Leggatt     154
1980-"Fancy's Images," from Comic Transformations in Shakespeare   Ruth Nevo     176
1986-"The Bottomless Dream," from Northrop Frye on Shakespeare   Northrop Frye     190
1987-"Introduction," from A Midsummer Night's Dream (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations)    Harold Bloom     203
1998-"The Carnivalesque in A Midsummer Night's Dream," from Shakespeare and Carnival After Bakhtin   David Wiles     208
A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Twenty-first Century     227
2003-"'When Everything Seems Double': Peter Quince, the Other Playwright in A Midsummer Night's Dream," from Shakespeare Survey, vol. 56   A.B. Taylor     227
Bibliography     245
Acknowledgments     249
Index     251
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2004

    This Was Helpful

    I used this book for a research paper I was doing, and I found it to be very usesful. Harold Bloom breaks down the text and analyzes it in a way that the average Joe can understand.

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