Mark Van Doren (1894-1972) was born in Hope, Illinois, and received his A.M. and Ph.D. from Columbia, where he taught literature for nearly forty years and where his students included Thomas Merton, John Berryman, and Allen Ginsberg. It was there, and with his book The Liberal Education, that he helped promote the influential “great books” movement. Van Doren was literary editor of The Nation and president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his books are critical biographies of such writers as Dryden and Hawthorne; a study of epic poetry, The Noble Voice; several plays; an auto-biography; novels; and many volumes of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize winning Collected Poems, 1922-1938.
Doren deftly guides the reader though the sometime labyrinthine intricacies of Shakespeare’s rich and strange language, the better to reveal the mysteries at the heart of his achievement.