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The Egg-Head’s Egger-On

Christopher Hitchens: Saul Bellow keeps his word (sort of), 27 April 2000

by Saul Bellow.
Viking, 254 pp., £16.99, April 2000, 0 670 89131 2
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... to all but the meanest citizens of the republic of letters, the novel is an obelisk for the late Allan Bloom, author of the 1987 shocker, The Closing of the American Mind. This book, which was a late product or blooming of the University of Chicago Committee on Social Thought, argued that the American mind was closed because it had become so goddamned ...

Happily ever after

M.F. Burnyeat, 23 July 1992

The End of History and the Last Man 
by Francis Fukuyama.
Hamish Hamilton, 418 pp., £20, March 1992, 0 241 13013 1
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... Xenophon’s Hiero’. The revised and enlarged paperback edition of Strauss’s On Tyranny, which Allan Bloom brought out in 1963, reprints the entire debate for the benefit of students on the initiation courses that Strauss’s followers run in a number of American universities. It was again Allan Bloom, the ...

Swallowing goldfish

Alexander Nehamas, 10 December 1987

The Closing of the American Mind: How higher education has failed democracy and impoverished the souls of today’s students 
by Allan Bloom.
Simon and Schuster, 392 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 671 47990 3
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... about their potential consequences, and mostly vague recommendations regarding their reform. Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, described on the New York Times best-seller list as ‘a critique of liberal arts education during the past twenty-five years’, has been widely considered as a distinguished part of this broad critical ...

Let every faction bloom

John Patrick Diggins, 6 March 1997

For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism 
edited by Joshua Cohen.
Beacon, 154 pp., $15, August 1996, 0 8070 4313 3
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For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism 
by Maurizio Viroli.
Oxford, 214 pp., £22.50, September 1995, 0 19 827952 3
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Bonds of Affection: Americans Define Their Patriotism 
edited by John Bodnar.
Princeton, 352 pp., £45, September 1996, 0 691 04397 3
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Buring the Flag: The Great 1989-90 American Flag Desecration Controversy 
by Robert Justin Goldstein.
Kent State, 453 pp., $39, July 1996, 0 87338 526 8
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... prevail by virtue of the demands of differential recognition. Identity politics lets every faction bloom while patriotism, now seen as the snare of subordination, perishes. During the Sixties, when the Vietnam War was raging, many young Americans made sure that they stayed in school in order to enjoy the draft deferment that kept them out of the war. During ...

Manning the Barricades

Andreas Huyssen, 1 August 1996

No Passion Spent 
by George Steiner.
Faber, 421 pp., £20, January 1996, 0 571 17697 6
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... and values embodied in an unchanging canon. It’s like looking at twins: Steiner as a European Allan Bloom, Bloom as an American George Steiner. Such an observation will not sit well with Steiner’s claim that ‘Europe and North America are, in crucial ways, increasingly distant from each other.’ His ...

In a flattened world

Richard Rorty, 8 April 1993

The Ethics of Authenticity 
by Charles Taylor.
Harvard, 142 pp., £13.95, November 1992, 0 674 26863 6
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... by representatives of ‘the human potential movement’) nor knock it (in the manner of Lasch and Allan Bloom). Instead, we should ‘fight over the meaning of authenticity’. In particular, we should keep reminding people that the selves to which they hope to be true are ‘dialogical selves’ – that we are what we are because of the people, real or ...

Still Superior

Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag, 12 February 2009

Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 318 pp., £16.99, January 2009, 978 0 241 14431 2
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... student could enter after the sophomore year of high school; precocious philosophical peers like Allan Bloom (born 1930) and Richard Rorty (born 1931) were educated on the same programme. ‘I’ll really know what to do in Chicago when I get there,’ Sontag writes after recounting more adventures in the bars of San Francisco and Sausalito. ‘I’ll ...

A Leg-Up for Oliver North

Richard Rorty, 20 October 1994

Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for America’s Future 
by Richard Bernstein.
Knopf, 367 pp., $25, September 1994, 0 679 41156 9
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... William Bennett. Bennett and his fellow conservative intellectuals would like to persuade us that Allan Bloom was right in suggesting that the universities are under the control of a ‘Nietzscheanised left’, and that the life of the mind in America survives only in conservative think-tanks. There is, to be sure, such a Left; though it has managed to ...

How far shall I take this character?

Richard Poirier: The Corruption of Literary Biography, 2 November 2000

Bellow: A Biography 
by James Atlas.
Faber, 686 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 571 14356 3
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... of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, the author of The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom. According to Atlas, Bellow is ‘unsparing about his friend’s self-destructive bent, his oblivious devotion to fine wine and rich food’. The fact is that as early as Augie March many of the characters Bellow most admires share a ...
Adventures on the Freedom Road: The French Intellectuals in the 20th Century 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy, translated by Richard Veasey.
Harvill, 434 pp., £20, December 1995, 1 86046 035 6
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The Imaginary Jew 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O’Neill and David Suchoff.
Nebraska, 230 pp., £23.95, August 1994, 0 8032 1987 3
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The Defeat of the Mind 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Judith Friedlander.
Columbia, 165 pp., $15, May 1996, 0 231 08023 9
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... tradition. In fact, his defence of the French mind, originally published at the same time as Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, is a plea for Culture, not Reason – explicitly, it defines literature in opposition to science, and implicitly, the intellectual in opposition to the academic. Lévy and Finkielkraut’s insistence on the ...

Nutty Professors

Hal Foster: ‘Lingua Franca’, 8 May 2003

Quick Studies: The Best of ‘Lingua Franca’ 
edited by Alexander Star.
Farrar, Straus, 514 pp., $18, September 2002, 0 374 52863 2
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... education’ (Dinesh D’Souza in 1991), dedicated to ‘the closing of the American mind’ (Allan Bloom in 1987). The sense of embattlement is palpable in a recent anthology of articles from the New Criterion, whose editor, Hilton Kramer, gazes back on the founding of the magazine in 1982: The ‘long march through the institutions’ that had ...

The Unstoppable Upward

James Wolcott: ‘The Life of Saul Bellow’, 24 January 2019

The Life of Saul Bellow: Love and Strife, 1965-2005 
by Zachary Leader.
Cape, 864 pp., £35, November 2018, 978 0 224 10188 2
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... age of 85, he brought out Ravelstein, its protagonist modelled on Bellow’s friend and colleague Allan Bloom, whose twilight lament The Closing of the American Mind, endorsed with a foreword by Bellow (though what a snoozer of stale seminar hem-hawing that was: ‘It would be a pity if intelligent adversaries were not to read Professor ...

Women beware men

Margaret Anne Doody, 23 July 1992

Backlash: The Undeclared War against Women 
by Susan Faludi.
Chatto, 592 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 7011 4643 5
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The War against Women 
by Marilyn French.
Hamish Hamilton, 229 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 241 13271 1
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... read detective stories than those who attend only to magazines, to serious self-help books, or to Allan Bloom! But Disney studios made a mess out of trying to make a film about Sara Paretsky’s heroine, as they could not really believe in or approve of her. Television in the United States is almost universally under the control of advertisers, and the ...

Education and Exclusion

Sheldon Rothblatt, 13 February 1992

Hutchins’ University: A Memoir of the University of Chicago 1929-1950 
by William McNeill.
Chicago, 194 pp., $24.95, October 1991, 0 226 56170 4
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Robert M. Hutchins: Portrait of an Educator 
by Mary Ann Dzuback.
Chicago, 387 pp., $24.95, November 1991, 0 226 17710 6
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Jews in the American Academy 1900-1940: The Dynamics of Intellectual Assimilation 
by Susanne Klingenstein.
Yale, 248 pp., £22.50, November 1991, 0 300 04941 2
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... customarily loved their socially superior, clubbish, intellectually high-minded ‘college’. See Allan Bloom, who from the safety of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago mocks mass education in The Closing of the American Mind. That is, no one would love the multiversity in and for itself were it not for intercollegiate ...

Frameworks of Comparison

Benedict Anderson, 21 January 2016

... professors walked by, chatting loudly on their way to lunch. The man doing most of the talking was Allan Bloom, who much later published a bestseller called The Closing of the American Mind, a rather fascinating and even intimidating figure. Unashamedly effeminate, and clearly favouring his male over his female students, he was nonetheless a charismatic ...

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