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Intelligent Theory

Frank Kermode, 7 October 1982

Figures of Literary Discourse 
by Gérard Genette, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Blackwell, 303 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 631 13089 6
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Theories of the Symbol 
by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by Catherine Porter.
Blackwell, 302 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 631 10511 5
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The Breaking of the Vessels 
by Harold Bloom.
Chicago, 107 pp., £7, April 1982, 0 226 06043 8
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The Institution of Criticism 
by Peter Hohendahl.
Cornell, 287 pp., £14.74, June 1982, 0 8014 1325 7
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Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction 
by Ann Banfield.
Routledge, 340 pp., £15.95, June 1982, 0 7100 0905 4
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... though they exhibit a considerable variety of interests, sociological, historical, theoretical; in Harold Bloom’s case ordinary language is defeated, for we need some such compound as cabbalistic-rhapsodic. None of them shows much interest in British writing, or the British literary scene, or in literary criticism as it is now practised and taught ...

Poisonous Frogs

Laura Quinney: Allusion v. Influence, 8 May 2003

Allusion to the Poets 
by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 345 pp., £20, August 2002, 0 19 925032 4
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... affectionate and independent respect’. His stubborn affirmation of gratitude is directed against Harold Bloom, an antagonist whose views Ricks means to parry with vigilance. He derides Bloom for ‘his sentimental discrediting of influence’, and calls the theory of the anxiety of influence a ‘melodramatic ...

Gravity’s Smoothest Dream

Matthew Bevis: A.R. Ammons, 7 March 2019

The Complete Poems 
by A.R. Ammons.
Norton, two vols, 2133 pp., £74, December 2017, 978 0 393 25489 1
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... Richard Howard proclaimed ‘a masterpiece of our period’. Collected Poems appeared in 1972, and Harold Bloom called it the most distinguished book of American poetry since Wallace Stevens’s Collected Poems came out in the mid-1950s. It was ‘a major imaginative event’, John Hollander said, and John Ashbery – in his first piece for the New York ...

O Harashbery!

C.K. Stead, 23 April 1992

The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara 
edited by Donald Allen.
Carcanet, 233 pp., £18.95, October 1991, 0 85635 939 4
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Flow Chart 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 213 pp., £16.95, September 1991, 0 85635 947 5
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... subsequently included in a Yale collection of essays on Ashbery edited, and one-third written, by Harold Bloom, John Bayley sees the critical question ‘in terms of the contrast between Englishness and Americanness in the contemporary poetic voice’ – the ‘English voice’ dealing in ‘robust reality’ (which he concedes can sometimes be ‘a ...

Outside the Academy

Robert Alter, 13 February 1992

Authors and Authority: English and American Criticism 1750-1990 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Macmillan, 392 pp., £40, August 1991, 0 333 43294 0
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A History of Modern Criticism 1750-1950. Vol. VII: German, Russian and Eastern European Criticism, 1900-1950 
by René Wellek.
Yale, 458 pp., £26, October 1991, 0 300 05039 9
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... to support his scepticism at his home institution in the so-called École de Yale. In 1979, Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Geoffrey Hartman and J. Hillis Miller, all at the time Yale colleagues, put together a kind of manifesto entitled Deconstruction and Criticism. There were certain affinities among the five but the differences were ...
Criticism in the University 
edited by Gerald Graff and Reginald Gibbons.
Northwestern, 234 pp., £29.95, September 1985, 0 8101 0670 1
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... the sense intended by the author, for one has always a sense foreseen by the Holy Spirit. I expect Harold Bloom would agree. Even if one grants that much of the current unrest is about how to keep literary academics off the streets, the conflict between those who regard the text as a bucket with a determined and finite content and those who regard it as ...

At Free Love Corner

Jenny Diski, 30 March 2000

Literary Seductions: Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers 
by Frances Wilson.
Faber, 258 pp., £12.99, October 1999, 0 571 19288 2
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... writing, not sensing its strangeness, dangers, or pitfalls, and he consequently wrote too much ... Harold Bloom suggests that he can never be more than ‘a good minor poet’ because of his ‘distrust of figurative language, and his powerfully reductive tendency to historicise and literalise every manifestation of the Goddess he could discover, whether ...

On Douglas Crase

Matthew Bevis, 5 December 2019

... in similarly emphatic terms, while Anthony Hecht saluted an ‘extraordinarily fine’ debut and Harold Bloom hailed the arrival of a great original. ‘I think I speak for many,’ David Kalstone wrote, ‘in saying it appeared with that sense of completeness of utterance and identity that must have come with the first books of Wallace Stevens ...

No Fear of Fanny

Marilyn Butler, 20 November 1980

Fanny 
by Erica Jong.
Granada, 496 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 246 11427 4
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The Heroine’s Text 
by Nancy Miller.
Columbia, 185 pp., £10, July 1980, 0 231 04910 2
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... the 18th century. Her generation graduated about the time that the literary critics W.J. Bate and Harold Bloom began to meditate on the trials imposed on the modern writer by too much ancestry – the burden of the past, the anxiety of influence, and the artistic necessity of misreading old art in order to make new art. Ms Jong is hell-bent on ...

Fading Out

John Redmond, 2 November 1995

The Ghost Orchid 
by Michael Longley.
Cape, 66 pp., £7, May 1995, 0 224 04112 6
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... maybe the other way around. ‘An imaginative solitude that is almost a solipsism’: this is what Harold Bloom, in his Poetics of Influence, describes as a burden for the strong poet ‘in his own final phase’. If The Ghost Orchid is not a book by a strong poet in his final phase, it is certainly a book by a poet writing strongly about final ...

Slick Chick

Elaine Showalter, 11 July 1991

The Haunting of Sylvia Plath 
by Jacqueline Rose.
Virago, 288 pp., £14.99, June 1991, 1 85381 307 9
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Passions of the Mind 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 340 pp., £17, August 1991, 0 7011 3260 4
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... they had been wrong. But even now, Plath is not immune from the smirking putdowns of critics like Harold Bloom, who (in the latest Paris Review) calls her ‘our era’s Felicia Hemans’, a ‘bad verse writer’. Bloom makes a cameo appearance in Bitter Fame as ‘Hal Bloom the ...

I’ll be back

Marjorie Garber: Sequels, 19 August 1999

Part Two: Reflections on the Sequel 
edited by Paul Budra and Betty Schellenberg.
Toronto, 217 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 8020 0915 8
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... perfect sequel. Way back in 1973 – it seems eons ago in the chronicles of literary theory – Harold Bloom argued in The Anxiety of Influence that ‘strong poets’ inevitably resist the priority of their literary predecessors, but, or and, that writing in the wake of others, paradoxically, did wonders for the originality of their work: ‘Poetic ...

Out of Germany

E.S. Shaffer, 2 October 1980

The German Idea: Four English Writers and the Reception of German Thought 1800-1860 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 521 22560 4
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Criticism in the Wilderness. The Study of Literature Today 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
Yale, 314 pp., £11.40, October 1980, 0 300 02085 6
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... romantic critics of the last twenty years, notably the ‘Teufelsdröckhian’ Harold Bloom – admittedly a leap that may strain the credulity of his English readers. But it is part of an analysis of the situation in criticism since the demise of the New Criticism that shows in a most illuminating way how the romantic inheritance has ...

Us and Them

Robert Taubman, 4 September 1980

The Secret Servant 
by Gavin Lyall.
Hodder, 224 pp., £5.50, June 1980, 0 340 25385 1
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The Flowers of the Forest 
by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 365 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 436 20087 2
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A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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Enter the Lion: A Posthumus Memoir of Mycroft Holmes 
by Michael Hodel and Sean Wright.
Dent, 237 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 460 04483 4
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Dorothy I. Sayers: Nine Literary Studies 
by Trevor Hall.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 9780715614556
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Milk Dime 
by Barry Fantoni.
Hodder, 192 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 340 25350 9
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... century. These writers aren’t rejecting their ancestors; there’s no anxiety of influence, as Harold Bloom calls it, but a benignant sort of Oedipal relationship. If they’re among the best, though not the most representative, of current thriller writers, it’s partly for having something, if only a fantasy, to oppose to the generally dehumanising ...

Silly Willy

Jonathan Bate, 25 April 1991

William Blake: His Life 
by James King.
Weidenfeld, 263 pp., £25, March 1991, 0 297 81160 6
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... 5s Od per annum for engraving lessons’). Now that Frye is dead, Blake’s best living critic is Harold Bloom. If Blake’s mental forms had a life before 1757, they also had one after 1827. Arthur Symons saw this: he was interested not only in the figures from the past whom Blake brought back to life, but also in those of the present ...

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