Harold Bloom #1: Did Shakespeare invent the human?

harold-bloom01

The brilliant, but controversial, literary critic Harold Bloom picture source.

The American critic Harold Bloom certainly thinks so. In his most controversial book, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, he argues that Shakespeare is responsible for “the invention of the human, the inauguration of personality as we have come to understand it”. He is not merely claiming that Shakespeare was the first writer to write successfully abouthuman beings; he believes that Shakespeare created us – orrecreated us. “The dominant Shakespearean characters… are extraordinary instances not only of how meaning gets started, rather than repeated, but also of how new modes of consciousness come into being.” In other words, Shakespeare changed the way we think about ourselves, and others. Had he died young, before writing his great masterpieces, we “all of us might be gambolling about, but without mature Shakespeare we would be very different, because we would think and feel and speak differently.”

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