A fascinating collection that unveils john berryman's lifelong preoccupation with Shakespeare.
As a critic, John Berryman was called "not only one of the most gifted Americans of his time, but also one of the most honorable and responsible." Berryman began as a protg of the Shakespearean scholar Mark Van Doren and developed into a perceptive critic whose advantage was his own experience as a major poet. His voluminous writings on the Bard have now been collected and edited by John Haffenden.
After the opening section on Shakespeare's dramatic early years, the book continues with Berryman's brilliant reconstruction, "Shakespeare at Thirty," and seven other lectures, including "The Tragic Substance" and "Shakespeare's Last Word" (about The Tempest). The next section is devoted to King Lear, to a discussion of the difference between the quarto and folio texts of this masterpiece, and to the absorbing correspondence about the play's problems between Berryman and another of the greatest Shakespeare scholars, W. W. Greg. The fourth section investigates William Haughton as possibly being "Mr. W.H." of the sonnets and a collaborator on The Taming of the Shrew. After a group of essays on various plays, including Henry VI and Macbeth, the book concludes with "Shakespeare's Reality," which Berryman apparently intended to be the end of his unfinished full-length study of Shakespeare.