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Grandfather Emerson

Harold Bloom, 7 April 1994

Poetry and Pragmatism 
by Richard Poirier.
Faber, 228 pp., £20, November 1992, 0 571 16617 2
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... Richard Poirier, now in his middle sixties, seems to me perhaps the most eminent of our living literary critics, at least in the United States. He has a central position in contemporary American letters, as the editor of Raritan, the best of our quarterly reviews, and as the presiding spirit of the Library of America, the definitive publisher of the classic texts of the national literature ...

Bloom’s Bible

Donald Davie, 13 June 1991

The Book of J 
translated by David Rosenberg, interpreted by Harold Bloom.
Faber, 286 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 571 16111 1
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... already barely manageable ambiguities of Holy Writ compounded, as they are by David Rosenberg and Harold Bloom. To be sure, this response will seem pusillanimous. When believers, Jewish or Christian, read or hear what they take to be Holy Writ, it’s supposed that they respond complacently. But some of them at least respond needfully and in terror. The ...

Bloom’s Giant Forms

Mark Edmundson, 1 June 1989

Ruin the sacred truths: Poetry and Belief from the Bible to the Present 
by Harold Bloom.
Harvard, 204 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 674 78027 2
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Harold BloomTowards Historical Rhetorics 
by Peter de Bolla.
Routledge, 155 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 415 00899 9
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... One way to think of Harold Bloom is as a professor and scholar of Romantic poetry who has Romantic aspirations of his own. He writes in the passionate style of Emerson and Shelley, and he has a penchant like Blake’s for system-building. Bloom would subscribe to that poet’s declaration in Jerusalem that his business isn’t to reason and compare, but to create ...

Bloom’s Gnovel

Marilyn Butler, 3 July 1980

The Flight to Lucifer: A Gnostic Fantasy 
by Harold Bloom.
Faber, 240 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 374 15644 1
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... Harold Bloom of Yale has become strangely hard to avoid. Eloquent, prolific, charismatic, he is unmistakably one of the leading living mandarins of literary criticism. His manner of writing has not endeared him to the professional Establishment – his hyperboles, as he once remarked, have been unacceptable to the scholars of poetic tradition ...

The cars of the elect will be driverless

Frank Kermode, 31 October 1996

Omens of the Millennium 
by Harold Bloom.
Fourth Estate, 256 pp., £15.99, October 1996, 1 85702 555 5
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... Towards the end of this rather bewildering book Harold Bloom explains that he doesn’t really expect the year 2000 to be catastrophic; we shall experience neither ‘rupture nor rapture’. The only danger he can see is that some people, maddened by the deferral of the end-time on which they had counted (or, in Bloomspeak, disappointed in their ‘expectation of release from the burdens of a society that is weary with its sense of belatedness, or “aftering” ’) might cut up rough when the year passes without apocalyptic incident ...

Strange, Sublime, Uncanny, Anxious

Frank Kermode, 22 December 1994

The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages 
by Harold Bloom.
Harcourt Brace, 578 pp., £22, November 1994, 0 15 195747 9
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... As one thinks of Harold Bloom, Auden’s description of Wyndham Lewis as a lonely old volcano comes to mind. Though not, like Lewis, ‘of the Right’, or indeed claiming any political alignment, Bloom erupts with comparable regularity and force. He prefers to be a one-man cultural opposition, waving only the banner of aesthetics; he says there are no Bloomians, but everybody knows him and all wonder, usually with exasperated affection, what he will do next ...

The Divine Miss P.

Elaine Showalter, 11 February 1993

Sex, Art and American Culture 
by Camille Paglia.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, March 1993, 0 670 84612 0
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... Who is hotter than Mary McCarthy? Smarter than Susan Sontag? Funnier than Harold Bloom? Well, if you take her word for it, it’s Camille Paglia, come to set the world straight on the burning issues of our time: tenured radicals, date rape, the aesthetic evolution of Madonna. The self-styled genius and warrior woman seized public attention with her first book, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990), a sweeping, Strindbergian analysis of culture as the war of the sexes ...

The Magic Bloomschtick

Colin Burrow: Harold Bloom, 21 November 2019

The American Canon: Literary Genius from Emerson to Pynchon 
by Harold Bloom, edited by David Mikics.
Library of America, 426 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 1 59853 640 9
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... HaroldBloom, who died at the age of 89 just before the publication of The American Canon, made his name in 1973 with The Anxiety of Influence. It was a great title, which soon became a catchphrase. The book itself used a crazy-paving of vocabulary drawn from the Kabbalah, Gnosticism, Lucretius and Freud to explain how Romantic and post-Romantic poets relate to their predecessors ...

Saved for Jazz

David Trotter, 5 October 1995

Modernist Quartet 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Cambridge, 305 pp., £35, November 1994, 0 521 47004 8
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... suicidally churlish to spurn new emphases. In a previous book about Stevens, Lentricchia upbraided Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler for ‘proceeding as if they had never read the poet’s letters and journals, or as if, having read them, they had come to the conclusion that the worldly life they found portrayed therein pertained to somebody else.’ But he ...

Absent Authors

John Lanchester, 15 October 1987

Criticism in Society 
by Imre Salusinszky.
Methuen, 244 pp., £15, May 1987, 0 416 92270 8
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Mensonge 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Deutsch, 104 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 233 98020 2
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... oppositional critics (Edward Said, Frank Lentricchia) and two unclassifiable individualists (Harold Bloom, Frank Kermode). The ninth interviewee is the daddy of academic critics, the man with whom ‘we enter the critical modern age, the era of the total professionalisation of literary studies in the university’: Northrop Frye. The interviews were ...

Transcendental Criticism

David Trotter, 3 March 1988

The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections 
by Richard Poirier.
Faber, 256 pp., £14.95, March 1988, 0 571 15013 6
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... modified: among poets, Whitman, Frost and Stevens; among critics and theorists, John Hollander, Harold Bloom, Stanley Cavell, George Kateb, Richard Rorty and Sacvan Bercovitch. Strong claims are made for the validity of the Emersonian position – it represents ‘what literature is most often trying to tell us about itself and how it wants to be ...

Wild, Fierce Yale

Geoffrey Hartman, 21 October 1982

Deconstruction: Theory and Practice 
by Christopher Norris.
Methuen, 157 pp., £6.50, April 1982, 0 416 32060 0
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... fiercest of Yale deconstructors, with a rigour nor easily explained unless in ethical terms’. Harold Bloom, too, is admired, because of a related if antithetical fierceness: he ‘sets up as the opponent from within, meeting the deconstructors point for point on rhetorical ground of their own choosing’. ...

The Only Way

Sam Kinchin-Smith: Culinary Mansplaining, 4 January 2018

... of some of history’s ‘higher cribbers’: Borges, Montaigne, Stevenson, Eliot, Mann and Harold Bloom; Michel Tournier and Alain Robbe-Grillet; pretend pretenders to the throne, Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel; Napoleon’s chef Dunand; and ‘the genitally preoccupied Roman epigrammatist Martial’. I found some of the recipes in The ...

Proverbs

William Ian Miller: Jon Elster, 10 August 2000

Alchemies of the Mind: Rationality and the Emotions 
by Jon Elster.
Cambridge, 450 pp., £14.95, March 1999, 0 521 64487 9
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... you suffer from anxiety of influence with regard to early versions of yourself, as if, to twist Harold Bloom, your early self now played an insurmountably glorious Milton to your later romantic phases? Did Shakespeare say to himself: ‘No way I can beat Hamlet, so why write again?’ Jon Elster wrote two gems in the 1970s and 1980s, Ulysses and the ...

Presidential Criticism

John Sutherland, 10 January 1991

Victorian Subjects 
by J. Hillis Miller.
Harvester, 330 pp., £30, December 1990, 0 7450 0820 8
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Tropes, Parables, Performatives: Essays on 20th-Century Literature 
by J. Hillis Miller.
Harvester, 266 pp., £30, December 1990, 0 7450 0836 4
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... next door in the French Department. With de Man and his other colleagues, Geoffrey Hartman and Harold Bloom, Miller achieved national prominence for the ‘Yale school of criticism’ – a prominence certified in 1985 with a wildly overwritten denunciation in the New York Times (‘The Tyranny of the Yale Critics’). Despite all this ...

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