Lear: The Great Image of Authority by Harold Bloom

Lear: The Great Image of Authority

(Caidyn)

1.5/5 – DNF at 59%

Thanks to Netgalley for a review copy. This did not affect my opinion.

Last year, I read Cleopatra: I Am Fire and Air, an analysis of Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare. That was the first time I had ever heard of him. Everyone calls him a renowned Shakespeare expert. It just didn’t feel like this book was his finest piece on Shakespeare. I got more out of reading the play myself (which I did in prep for this book) than reading it.

While this says the book is about Lear, it felt like it was about everyone but Lear. There was more time spent on Edgar, the legitimate son of Gloucester who was being plotted against by his half-brother, than anyone else. I expected this book to be a very close analysis of Lear’s character since he is such a unique one. The slow devolution into insanity and madness, which he already had a thin grasp of already.

The most I got out of this was that the use of “nothing” is very purposeful in the play. And that everyone else has a real role and uniqueness that Bloom focused on rather than the titular character. Even with that, the book felt jumbled and without a thesis whatsoever. It starts off with a comparison of Hamlet and Lear (which did nothing) and moved onto completely rehashing the play. There were more quotes pulled from the play than actual analysis of what was taken out.

Overall, this didn’t feel like an expert telling me about Shakespeare and giving me the hidden meaning of the play, but an overlong essay that I could have written back in my AP Lit class that earned me a barely passing grade.