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

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, Timon of Athens

The Life of Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare My rating: 4 of 5 stars [For Shakespeare's birth/death day. Also a good day to revisit my essay on Shakespeare's detractors and what they miss about the meaning and worth of his nihilism.] When I was reading this—a late quasi-tragedy of about the same period as … Continue reading William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens

William Shakespeare, Cymbeline

The Tragedy of Cymbeline by William Shakespeare My rating: 4 of 5 stars It seems obligatory when discussing Shakespeare’s late romance Cymbeline to begin with Samuel Johnson’s dismissal of it: This play has many just sentiments, some natural dialogues, and some pleasing scenes, but they are obtained at the expense of much incongruity. To remark … Continue reading William Shakespeare, Cymbeline

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

Links: Me, Elsewhere

1. While I don't even really know who Ira Glass is, I thought the response to his anti-Shakespeare tweet was missing a broader perspective, so I wrote an essay for The Millions attempting to provide one, giving some good reasons why people across the ages, from Tolstoy to Wittgenstein to Joyce to Woolf, have criticized … Continue reading Links: Me, Elsewhere