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Signposts along the way that Reason went

Richard Rorty, 16 February 1984

Margins of Philosophy 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Alan Bass.
Harvester, 330 pp., £25, May 1983, 0 7108 0454 7
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... with ‘Yale’ – the diverse things which a remarkable constellation of original critics, Harold Bloom, Geoffrey Hartman, J. Hillis Miller and the late Paul de Man, were already doing before Derrida came along to join them). Derrida did write some things which encouraged the belief that he had discovered a brand-new whiz-bang method of finding ...

Old America

W.C. Spengemann, 7 January 1988

Look homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe 
by David Herbert Donald.
Bloomsbury, 579 pp., £16.95, April 1987, 0 7475 0004 5
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From this moment on: America in 1940 
by Jeffrey Hart.
Crown, 352 pp., $19.95, February 1987, 9780517557419
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... historian may not have intended. Donald surely did not stand Wolfe upon his wobbly legs so that Harold Bloom could knock him down again in the New York Times Book Review. No more are Hart’s thematic parallels among the characters of Hitler, Churchill and Roosevelt, or among the statist designs of the New Deal, the New York World’s Fair, Nazi ...

Sexist

John Bayley, 10 December 1987

John Keats 
by John Barnard.
Cambridge, 172 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 521 26691 2
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Keats as a Reader of Shakespeare 
by R.S. White.
Athlone, 250 pp., £25, March 1987, 0 485 11298 1
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... literary world’. He even wrote, and cancelled, a knowingly grotesque first stanza, which Harold Bloom maintained gave the Ode its proper tone. But there is no proper tone here, any more than there is in the other Odes – only the ‘human and fictive’, interchanging in their typically and unmisgivingly Keatsian manner: real girls and marble ...

Arctic Habits

Tony Tanner, 25 May 1995

Emerson: The Mind on Fire 
by Robert Richardson.
California, 668 pp., £27, June 1995, 0 520 08808 5
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... book is very much of its time. Since the enthusiastic re-evaluation of Emerson by Stanley Cavell, Harold Bloom and, most importantly, Richard Poirier, Emerson’s stock has probably never stood higher. He seems, temporarily, to have moved into a privileged place beyond criticism. But I wonder if that is good for him. In 1887 Henry James reviewed a Memoir ...

Getting Ready to Exist

Adam Phillips, 17 July 1997

A Centenary Pessoa 
edited by Eugénio Lisboa and L.C. Taylor.
Carcanet, 335 pp., £25, May 1995, 9780856359361
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The Keeper of Sheep 
by Fernando Pessoa, translated by Edwin Honig and Susan Brown.
Sheep Meadow, 135 pp., $12.95, September 1997, 1 878818 45 7
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The Book of Disquietude 
by Fernando Pessoa, translated by Richard Zenith.
Carcanet, 323 pp., £9.95, January 1997, 1 85754 301 7
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... of our cultural insularity that it has taken so long for Pessoa’s work to become known. When Harold Bloom recently listed him among the 26 authors who comprise, for him, the fabled Western Canon, Time magazine implied that this was a symptom of Bloom’s pretentious interest in ‘academic obscurities’. It will ...

Writing the Night

Hugh Haughton, 25 January 1996

Selected Poems 
by David Gascoyne.
Enitharmon, 253 pp., £8.95, November 1994, 1 870612 34 5
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... to reconcile? Can a poet of the later 20th century still convincingly align him or herself to what Harold Bloom, writing of the canonical English Romantics, called the Visionary Company? How do you write what Gascoyne calls ‘post-Auschwitz theology’? Why did his precocious gifts fizzle out after the publication of A Vagrant in 1951? Indeed, why did so ...

Wordsworth and the Well-Hidden Corpse

Marilyn Butler, 6 August 1992

The Lyrical Ballads: Longman Annotated Texts 
edited by Michael Mason.
Longman, 419 pp., £29.99, April 1992, 0 582 03302 0
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Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth, Coleridge and Literary Possession 
by Susan Eilenberg.
Oxford, 278 pp., £30, May 1992, 0 19 506856 4
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The Politics of Nature: Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries 
by Nicholas Roe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £35, April 1992, 0 333 52314 8
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... true spiritual revolution after the false, material and murderous revolution ushered in by 1789. Harold Bloom, Hillis Miller and Paul de Man see something profoundly representative in Wordsworth’s sudden retreat from the public to the private sphere – the threshold of modernity, the moment when the political and social goals of history become either ...

Hasped and Hooped and Hirpling

Terry Eagleton: Beowulf, 11 November 1999

Beowulf 
translated by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 104 pp., £14.99, October 1999, 9780571201136
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... down with his pen to ‘the first stratum of the language’ and appropriated his birthright. As Harold Bloom might less decorously put it, the belated bastard offspring has now installed himself as the founding patriarch. It might be argued that Heaney’s anxious need for this move to be legitimated is a sign of the cultural colonisation it aims to ...

Batsy

Thomas Karshan: John Updike, 31 March 2005

Villages 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 321 pp., £17.99, February 2005, 9780241143087
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... his misogyny, his conservatism, his theological bad faith, the gratuitousness of his language. To Harold Bloom, Updike is ‘a minor writer with a major style’. Gore Vidal thinks that Updike ‘describes to no purpose’. James Wood complains that Updike fills his characters’ thoughts with showy phrases that don’t suit them or their situations; and ...

No one hates him more

Joshua Cohen: Franzen on Kraus, 7 November 2013

The Kraus Project 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 318 pp., £18.99, October 2013, 978 0 00 751743 5
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... on his Fulbright trip to Germany; about his relationships with women, and with the spectres of Harold Bloom and Pynchon. He writes about envy, and how it encourages productivity, and how it limits productivity, and about the folly of the very notion of artistic productivity. He writes against blogs, yet allows a comparison between Die Fackel and ...

Maybe he made it up

Terry Eagleton: Faking It, 6 June 2002

The Forger’s Shadow: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature 
by Nick Groom.
Picador, 351 pp., £20, April 2002, 9780330374323
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... literary works are made up of recycled bits and pieces of other works, so that, in the words of Harold Bloom, ‘the meaning of a poem is another poem.’ This doctrine of intertextuality is not to be confused with good old-fashioned literary influence. Such influences are mostly conscious and generally sporadic, whereas for Postmodernism it is ...

Everlasting Fudge

Theo Tait: The Difficult Fiction of Cynthia Ozick, 19 May 2005

The Bear Boy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.99, March 2005, 0 297 84808 9
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... Throne. Then the taciturn little Canaanite idols call him, in the language of the spheres, kike. Harold Bloom, no less, has described this story and ‘Envy’ as ‘novellas unequalled in her generation’. And there is, doubtless, much to be admired: the manic wit, the deft rhetoric, the play of recondite ideas. It’s also interesting to see ...

Pay me for it

Helen Deutsch: Summoning Dr Johnson, 9 February 2012

Samuel Johnson: A Life 
by David Nokes.
Faber, 415 pp., £9.99, August 2010, 978 0 571 22636 8
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Selected Writings 
by Samuel Johnson, edited by Peter Martin.
Harvard, 503 pp., £16.95, May 2011, 978 0 674 06034 0
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The Brothers Boswell: A Novel 
by Philip Baruth.
Corvus, 336 pp., £7.99, January 2011, 978 1 84887 446 6
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The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. 
by John Hawkins, edited by O.M. Brack.
Georgia, 554 pp., £53.50, August 2010, 978 0 8203 2995 6
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... eternal appeal ranging from Ruskin to Beckett to Seamus Heaney to that American avatar of Johnson, Harold Bloom, who places Johnson’s literary criticism within the ‘ancient genre of wisdom writing’. Focusing on only a ‘portion of Johnson … the moralist and critic’ (though he could be described as a moralist in almost all of his ...

Anti-Humanism

Terry Eagleton: Lawrence Sanitised, 5 February 2004

D.H. Lawrence and ‘Difference’: Post-Coloniality and the Poetry of the Present 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Oxford, 226 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 19 926052 4
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... de Man on Proust, Gilles Deleuze on Kafka, Gérard Genette on Flaubert, Hélène Cixous on Joyce, Harold Bloom on Wallace Stevens, J. Hillis Miller on Henry James. Some theorists are slapdash readers, but so are some non-theoretical critics. Derrida is so perversely myopic a reader, doggedly pursuing the finest flickers of meaning across a page, that he ...

Where Did the Hatred Go?

Adam Phillips: Criticism without Malice, 6 March 2008

A Scholar’s Tale: Intellectual Journey of a Displaced Child of Europe 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
Fordham, 195 pp., £17.50, October 2007, 978 0 8232 2832 4
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... a professional trajectory, about intense preoccupations and about meetings with remarkable men (Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Lacan etc), not about wives and children or, indeed, meetings with remarkable women. It is, unusually, a memoir without alibis, without a palpable design on the reader. As a critic Hartman never takes over, but he doesn’t believe ...

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