This legendary book by an esteemed poet and beloved professor at Columbia University features a series of smart, witty, deeply perceptive essays about each of Shakespeare’s plays, together with a further discussion of the poems. Writing with an incomparable knowledge of his subject but without a hint of pedantry, Van Doren elucidates both the astonishing boldness and myriad subtleties of Shakespeare’s protean art. His Shakespeare is a book to be treasured by both new and longtime students of the Bard.
Van Doren’s Shakespeare got me through Harry Levin’s [Harvard] course back in 1951. Whenever I read a Shax play I reread what Van Doren said about it.
— John Updike
Professor Van Doren enlightens us, not because he has any special knowledge or private advantages, but because his love of Shakespeare has been greater than our own.
— W.H. Auden
If during my stay at Columbia I had met only Mark Van Doren and his work, it would have been worth the trouble.
— Delmore Schwartz
It was the force of his example that made me a poet.
— John Berryman