Harold Bloom

Harold
Bloom
1930

American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University

Author Quotes

We read frequently if unknowingly, in quest of a mind more original than our own.

We read just to pass the time or moved by a serious need, but the time will come when we will read fighting against time.

We read not only because we cannot know enough people, but because friendship is so vulnerable, so likely to diminish or disappear, overcome by space, time, imperfect sympathies, and all the sorrows of familial and passional life.

We read to find ourselves, more fully and more strangely than otherwise we could hope to find.

We read, frequently if not unknowingly, in search of a mind more original than our own.

We read, I think, to repair our solitude, though pragmatically the better we read, the more solitary we become.

We'll try this first. If it doesn't work, we'll try something else. That's life, isn't it?

What Emily Dickinson does not rename or redefine, she revises beyond easy recognition.

What I think I have in common with the school of deconstruction is the mode of negative thinking or negative awareness, in the technical, philosophical sense of the negative, but which comes to me through negative theology.

What is literary tradition? What is a classic? What is a canonical view of tradition? How are canons of accepted classics formed, and how are they unformed? I think that all these quite traditional questions can take one simplistic but still dialectical question as their summing up: do we choose tradition or does it choose us, and why is it necessary that a choosing take place, or a being chosen? What happens if one tries to write, or to teach, or to think, or even to read without the sense of a tradition? Why, nothing at all happens, just nothing.

What is supposed to be the very essence of Judaism - which is the notion that it is by study that you make yourself a holy people - is nowhere present in Hebrew tradition before the end of the first or the beginning of the second century of the Common Era.

What matters in literature in the end is surely the idiosyncratic, the individual, the flavor or the color of a particular human suffering.

What we call a poem is mostly what is not there on the page. The strength of any poem is the poems that it has managed to exclude.

When critics surrender to the prevailing orthodoxy, the author says they adopt the rhetoric of an occupied country, one that expects no liberation from liberation.

You get too much at last of everything: of sunsets, of cabbages, of love.

We read deeply for varied reasons, most of them familiar: that we cannot know enough people profoundly enough; that we need to know ourselves better; that we require knowledge, not just of self and others, but of the way things are. Yet the strongest, most authentic motive for deep reading?is the search for a difficult pleasure.

You know, I don't want to be offensive. But 'Infinite Jest' [regarded by many as Wallace's masterpiece] is just awful. It seems ridiculous to have to say it. He can't think, he can't write. There's no discernible talent.

Aesthetic value emanates from the struggle between texts: in the reader, in language, in the classroom, in arguments within a society. Aesthetic value rises out of memory, and so (as Nietzsche saw) out of pain, the pain of surrendering easier pleasures in favour of much more difficult ones ... successful literary works are achieved anxieties, not releases from anxieties.

Canonical writing is born of an originality fused with tradition. ? From the book jacket

For more than half a century I have tried to confront greatness directly, hardly a fashionable stance, but I see no other justification for literary criticism in the shadows of our Evening Land. Over time the strong poets settle these matters for themselves, and precursors remain alive in their progeny. Readers in our flooded landscape use their own perceptiveness. But an advance can be of some help. If you believe that the canon in time will select itself, you still can follow a critical impulse to hasten the process, as I did with the later Stevens, Ashbury, and, more recently, Henri Cole.

I cannot be sure, but to imagine times a critical preference for context about the text does not reflect a generation become impatient with the reading in depth.

If we read the Western Canon in order to form our social, political, or personal moral values, I firmly believe we will become monsters of selfishness and exploitation.

Like television, motion pictures, and computers, [Stephen] King has replaced reading...the triumph of the genial King is a large emblem of the failures of American education.

One measures oncoming old age by its deepening of Proust, and its deepening by Proust. How to read a novel? Lovingly, if it shows itself capable of accomodating one's love; and jealously, because it can become the image of one's limitations in time and space, and yet can give the Proustian blessing of more life.

Romance depends upon imperfect knowledge.

Author Picture
First Name
Harold
Last Name
Bloom
Birth Date
1930
Bio

American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University