William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

Love's Labor's Lost by William Shakespeare My rating: 4 of 5 stars This early Shakespearean comedy, dating from the 1590s, is paradoxically slight but weighty, thin but dense. That's no doubt partially owing to the lavish verbal resources it spends on such a simple plot. The story it tells is this: the King of Navarre… Continue reading William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe My rating: 4 of 5 stars I am neither a Marlowe scholar in particular nor an early modernist in general, but as far as I can determine—with the aid of the contextual and critical materials collected in this Signet Classics edition edited by the late Sylvan Barnet—there are three main… Continue reading Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Hamlet by William Shakespeare My rating: 5 of 5 stars Why is this bizarre, disorderly, long, and poorly transmitted tragedy from the turn of the seventeenth century the central work of the western literary tradition, its hero the keystone in the arch of modern literature? Because the distance he created between himself and the world… Continue reading William Shakespeare, Hamlet

William Shakespeare, King Lear

King Lear by William Shakespeare My rating: 5 of 5 stars What is King Lear about? "[T]he fierce dispute, / Betwixt damnation and impassion'd clay," wrote Keats, but both terms seem inapt: "clay"—as in the moist earth from which the Creator molded us—suggests a different image from the acid, sandy soil of the heathland where… Continue reading William Shakespeare, King Lear

William Shakespeare, 2 Henry IV

Henry IV, Part 2 by William Shakespeare My rating: 4 of 5 stars A strange play, even disturbing. The first part was a crowd-pleaser, full of action, comedy, and strongly individualized characters representing ideologies and ways of life from which Prince Hal, on his path to the throne, will have to choose. In this second… Continue reading William Shakespeare, 2 Henry IV

William Shakespeare, 1 Henry IV

Henry IV, Part I by William Shakespeare My rating: 5 of 5 stars In the excerpt from The Plays of William Shakespeare collected in this volume, Dr. Johnson asserts that, "None of Shakespeare's plays are more read than the First and Second Parts of Henry the Fourth. Perhaps no author has ever in two plays… Continue reading William Shakespeare, 1 Henry IV

William Shakespeare, Richard II

Richard II by William Shakespeare My rating: 4 of 5 stars It seems that most Shakespeare plays trail famous commentary from luminaries of British letters, usually Johnson or Hazlitt or Coleridge. But this Signet Classics edition puts at the head of its criticism section what appears to be the most famous commentary on this play… Continue reading William Shakespeare, Richard II