Macbeth

A Dagger of the Mind

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About The Book

From the greatest Shakespeare scholar of our time, comes a portrait of Macbeth, one of William Shakespeare’s most complex and compelling anti-heroes—the final volume in a series of five short books about the great playwright’s most significant personalities: Falstaff, Cleopatra, Lear, Iago, Macbeth.

From the ambitious and mad titular character to his devilish wife Lady Macbeth to the moral and noble Banquo to the mysterious Three Witches, Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare’s more brilliantly populated plays and remains among the most widely read, performed in innovative productions set in a vast array of times and locations, from Nazi Germany to Revolutionary Cuba. Macbeth is a distinguished warrior hero, who over the course of the play, transforms into a brutal, murderous villain and pays an extraordinary price for committing an evil act. A man consumed with ambition and self-doubt, Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most vital meditations on the dangerous corners of the human imagination.

Award-winning writer and beloved professor Harold Bloom investigates Macbeth’s interiority and unthinkable actions with razor-sharp insight, agility, and compassion. He also explores his own personal relationship to the character: Just as we encounter one Anna Karenina or Jay Gatsby when we are seventeen and another when we are forty, Bloom writes about his shifting understanding—over the course of his own lifetime—of this endlessly compelling figure, so that the book also becomes an extraordinarily moving argument for literature as a path to and a measure of our humanity.

Bloom is mesmerizing in the classroom, wrestling with the often tragic choices Shakespeare’s characters make. He delivers that kind of exhilarating intimacy and clarity in Macbeth, the final book in an essential series.

About The Author

Photograph by Greg Johnson

Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He has written more than sixty books, including Cleopatra: I Am Fire and Air, Falstaff: Give Me Life, The Western Canon, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, and How to Read and Why. He is a MacArthur Prize fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of many awards, including the Academy’s Gold Medal for Criticism. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (April 2019)
  • Length: 160 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501164279

Raves and Reviews

Praise for Macbeth: A Dagger of the Mind:

“The venerable and prolific literary scholar completes his Shakespeare's Personalities series with a lingering and deeply curious, even troubled, look at the titular character in the legendary play… Throughout, the author muses on Macbeth's ‘proleptic and prophetic imagination’ and wonders—all the way to the final paragraph—what it is about this sanguinary, murderous character that so deeply appeals to audiences… Older readers may wish this clear, concise, empathetic volume were available when they were in school.” Kirkus Reviews

“Acclaimed critic Bloom once again plumbs the depths of a Shakespeare play to reveal new insights, this time offering a richly detailed character sketch of Macbeth. . . Bloom will shift the reader’s perceptions of a literary classic.”Publishers Weekly

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More books in this series: Shakespeare's Personalities