Harold Bloom

Harold Bloom Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale, is the author, most famously, of The Anxiety of Influence.

Grandfather Emerson

Harold Bloom, 7 April 1994

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. His own books chart much of the development in American criticism during the last three decades, from The Comic Sense of Henry James (1960) and A World Elsewhere (1966), through a middle phase in The Performing Self (1971) and Norman Mailer (1972), on to the major study of Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing (1977), and culminating in The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections (1987) and Poetry and Pragmatism (1992), now belatedly under review. More perhaps than anyone else, Poirier has led the fierce revival of Ralph Waldo Emerson that has proceeded from about 1965 to the present moment. Though I am going to lament Poirier’s drive to obscure the truth that Emerson essentially was a religious writer, akin to other gnostics ancient and modern, I begin by acknowledging a debt to the example of Richard Poirier. In a bad time he continues to represent what is strongest in his nation’s critical intelligence, and he yields nothing to mere fashion or to the ideology of the politicised academic rabblement. He is precisely what Emerson meant by ‘the American scholar’, the ‘single candle’ that might yet illuminate all men and all women.

The Magic Bloomschtick: Harold Bloom

Colin Burrow, 21 November 2019

Harold​ Bloom, 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...

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The cars of the elect will be driverless

Frank Kermode, 31 October 1996

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...

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Strange, Sublime, Uncanny, Anxious

Frank Kermode, 22 December 1994

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...

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Bloom’s Bible

Donald Davie, 13 June 1991

Everybody, pretty well, says that the Authorised Version of the Bible is a national and more than national treasure, never to be surpassed. And yet everyone we listen to, down to those who read...

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Bloom’s Giant Forms

Mark Edmundson, 1 June 1989

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...

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Intelligent Theory

Frank Kermode, 7 October 1982

The first four books would normally be described as literary criticism, though they exhibit a considerable variety of interests, sociological, historical, theoretical; in Harold Bloom’s...

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Bloom’s Gnovel

Marilyn Butler, 3 July 1980

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...

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The Deconstruction Gang

S.L. Goldberg, 22 May 1980

In reviewing a book on literary theory recently, a noted American structuralist, Jonathan Culler, drew a stern line between the sort of assumptions about literature that might do for ordinary...

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