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Berryman's Shakespeare: Essays, Letters, and Other Writings

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John Berryman, one of America's most talented modern poets, was winner of the Pulitzer Prize for 77 Dream Songs and the National Book Award for His Toy, His Dream, His Rest. He gained a reputation as an innovator whose bold literary adventures were tempered by exacting discipline. Berryman was also an active, prolific, and perceptive critic whose own experience as a major John Berryman, one of America's most talented modern poets, was winner of the Pulitzer Prize for 77 Dream Songs and the National Book Award for His Toy, His Dream, His Rest. He gained a reputation as an innovator whose bold literary adventures were tempered by exacting discipline. Berryman was also an active, prolific, and perceptive critic whose own experience as a major poet served to his advantage.Berryman was a protege of Mark Van Doren, the great Shakespearean scholar, and the Bard's work remained one of his most abiding passions -- he would devote a lifetime to writing about it. His voluminous writings on the subject have now been collected and edited by John Haffenden. This book shows that Berryman's interest in Shakespeare was that of an expert scholar who thought seriously and deeply about his subject.


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John Berryman, one of America's most talented modern poets, was winner of the Pulitzer Prize for 77 Dream Songs and the National Book Award for His Toy, His Dream, His Rest. He gained a reputation as an innovator whose bold literary adventures were tempered by exacting discipline. Berryman was also an active, prolific, and perceptive critic whose own experience as a major John Berryman, one of America's most talented modern poets, was winner of the Pulitzer Prize for 77 Dream Songs and the National Book Award for His Toy, His Dream, His Rest. He gained a reputation as an innovator whose bold literary adventures were tempered by exacting discipline. Berryman was also an active, prolific, and perceptive critic whose own experience as a major poet served to his advantage.Berryman was a protege of Mark Van Doren, the great Shakespearean scholar, and the Bard's work remained one of his most abiding passions -- he would devote a lifetime to writing about it. His voluminous writings on the subject have now been collected and edited by John Haffenden. This book shows that Berryman's interest in Shakespeare was that of an expert scholar who thought seriously and deeply about his subject.

30 review for Berryman's Shakespeare: Essays, Letters, and Other Writings

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Thomas

    The curious thing about Berryman, certainly in this volume, is that the fact that he is always working, never settled on a solution, is more apparent than in most critics. This makes him very interesting, engaging, and annoying, by short turns and often at the same time. You have to be careful about what you say about what he says, because he is liable to contradict himself. Also, his way of expressing any given point or conclusion in his analysis might be overstated or otherwise put in such a w The curious thing about Berryman, certainly in this volume, is that the fact that he is always working, never settled on a solution, is more apparent than in most critics. This makes him very interesting, engaging, and annoying, by short turns and often at the same time. You have to be careful about what you say about what he says, because he is liable to contradict himself. Also, his way of expressing any given point or conclusion in his analysis might be overstated or otherwise put in such a way that you can ascribe to him a position he doesn’t take, or won’t defend, or is likely to reverse later. You find yourself circling back over ground like a dog, and realizing that he might not have actually said, or intended to say, what you thought he did.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andy Oram

    More historical than literary in its preoccupations, this collection of essays in various states of completion is useful if you have already deeply read Shakespeare and want to investigate hidden currents in the work. You should be familiar with most if not all his writings before starting this book. The painstaking exploration of sources was of moderate interest to me; the psychoanalytical and biographical speculations more so, and the literary insights quite valuable.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Duncan

    A series of essays on Shakespeare by the poet John Berryman. The ones about the changes in Shakespeare's writing over the course of his life--i.e., the distinct periods and the biographical details that help explain what might have driven the changes--were the most interesting. Other essays dealt in minute detail with the textual problems in King Lear, which didn't grab me as much. A series of essays on Shakespeare by the poet John Berryman. The ones about the changes in Shakespeare's writing over the course of his life--i.e., the distinct periods and the biographical details that help explain what might have driven the changes--were the most interesting. Other essays dealt in minute detail with the textual problems in King Lear, which didn't grab me as much.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alan Lindsay

    One of the most thoughtful treatments of Shakespeare I've read. Aside from the embrace of Freudiansm vis-a-vis Hamlet, I have had no problems with this treatment. And even thought was thoughtful. Anyone who accepts Freud would accept it as the best possible resolution to the problem of Hamlet. One of the most thoughtful treatments of Shakespeare I've read. Aside from the embrace of Freudiansm vis-a-vis Hamlet, I have had no problems with this treatment. And even thought was thoughtful. Anyone who accepts Freud would accept it as the best possible resolution to the problem of Hamlet.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amish

    Yeah, I have no idea what's going on in this book. I gave it a two because Berryman just have just been blitzed! Yeah, I have no idea what's going on in this book. I gave it a two because Berryman just have just been blitzed!

  6. 5 out of 5

    John

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  8. 5 out of 5

    Onaj Oxa

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kendrick

  10. 4 out of 5

    J.W.D. Nicolello

  11. 4 out of 5

    Yannis Livadas

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  13. 5 out of 5

    Justerini

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jamey

  16. 5 out of 5

    Grant Barber

  17. 4 out of 5

    Drew

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  21. 5 out of 5

    Troy Rosamond

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kim Lohse

  23. 4 out of 5

    KGL

  24. 5 out of 5

    Delanie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ashok Banker

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dr Peter Kalve

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christopher J.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    An engaging mix of scholarly material and fellow-poet-fandom.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chesshistorian

  30. 4 out of 5

    Liam Parry

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