From Harold Bloom's now-canonical book Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human come the individual meditations on Shakespeare's comedies, tragedies, and historical plays.
Each edition in the Harold Bloom Shakespeare Series will include the full text of the play, with editorial revisions by Harold Bloom.
Harold Bloom on Romeo and Juliet: "Romeo and Juliet is unmatched, in Shakespeare and in the world's literature, as a vision of an uncompromising mutual love that perishes of its own idealism and intensity."
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."
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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.
Series Introduction ix
Introduction Harold Bloom xi
Biography of William Shakespeare 1
Summary of Romeo and Juliet 5
Key Passages in Romeo and Juliet 17
List of Characters in Romeo and Juliet 33
Criticism Through the Ages 35
Romeo and Juliet in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries 37
1562-"To the Reader," from The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet Arthur Brooke 41
1635-From the Speculum Mundi John Swan 42
1662-From The Diary of Samuel Pepys Samuel Pepys 42
1672-From The Conquest of Granada. Second Part. Defence of the Epilogue John Dryden 43
1680-"Prologue," from History and Fall of Caius Marius Thomas Otway 43
Romeo and Juliet in the Eighteenth Century 45
1767-From Hamburgische Dramaturgie Gotthold Ephraim Lessing 46
1768-From Notes on Shakespear's Plays Samuel Johnson 46
1794-From "Shakespear," in A Complete History of the Stage Charles Dibdin 48
Romeo and Juliet in the Nineteenth Century 51
1809-From "Criticisms on Shakspeare's Tragedies," from Lectures onDramatic Art and Literature August Wilhelm Schlegel 53
1817-From "Romeo and Juliet," from Characters of Shakespear's Plays William Hazlitt 55
1818-From "Romeo and Juliet," from Shakespeare with Introductory Remarks on Poetry, the Drama, and the Stage Samuel Taylor Coleridge 61
1832-"Juliet," from Shakespeare's Heroines: Characteristics of Women: Moral, Poetical and Historical Anna Jameson 63
1872-From "The First and Second Tragedy: Romeo and Juliet; Hamlet," from Shakespere: A Critical Study of His Mind and Art Edward Dowden 83
1895-"Shakespeare as Dramatist," from Five Lectures on Shakespeare Bernhard ten Brink 101
1896-"Shakespere 'Italianate': Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice," from Shakespeare and His Predecessors Frederick S. Boas 115
Romeo and Juliet in the Twentieth Century 129
1902-"Juliet's Nurse," from Characters from Shakespeare 132
1943-"Pure and Impure Poetry," from Kenyon Review Robert Penn Warren 133
1951-"Romeo and Juliet," from The Meaning of Shakespeare Harold C. Goddard 152
1960-"Form and Formality in Romeo and Juliet," from Shakespeare Quarterly Harry Levin 175
1964-"Romeo and Juliet," from The Shakespearean Imagination Norman N. Holland 186
1970-"Romeo and Juliet," from Shakespeare: The Pattern in His Carpet Francis Fergusson 205
1970-"Romeo and Juliet: Comedy into Tragedy," from Essays in Criticism Susan Snyder 212
1973-"The Height," from Tragic Vision in Romeo and Juliet James H. Seward 221
1986-"Romeo and Juliet," from Northrop Frye on Shakespeare Northrop Frye 239
1986-"Introduction," from Romeo and Juliet (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations) Harold Bloom 254
1991-"Romeo and Juliet," from Shakespeare's Tragic Cosmos Thomas McAlindon 256
1993-"The Ambiguities of Romeo and Juliet," from Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies Maynard Mack 273
1996-"Introduction," from Romeo and Juliet (Bloom's Guides) Harold Bloom 290
Romeo and Juliet in the Twenty-first Century 293
2001-"Romeo and Juliet: An Innovative Tragedy," from Shakespeare: The Tragedies John Russell Brown 294
2006-"Motion and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet," from Philosophy and Literature Daryl W. Palmer 312