Harold Bloom

Harold
Bloom
1930

American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University

Author Quotes

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.

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.

At eighty-four, I can only write the way I go on teaching, personally and passionately.

Dark influences from the American past congregate among us still. If we are a democracy, what are we to make of the palpable elements of plutocracy, oligarchy, and mounting theocracy that rule our state? How do we address the self-inflicted catastrophes that devastated our natural environment? So large is our malaise that no single writer can encompass it. We have no Emerson or Whitman among us. An institutionalized counterculture condemns individuality as archaic and depreciates intellectual values, even in the universities. (The Anatomy of Influence)

He can?t think, he can?t write. There?s no discernible talent.

I realized early on that the academy and the literary world alike - and I don't think there really is a distinction between the two - are always dominated by fools, knaves, charlatans and bureaucrats. And that being the case, any human being, male or female, of whatever status, who has a voice of her or his own, is not going to be liked.

INTERVIEWER: And someone else edits? BLOOM: No one edits. I edit. I refuse to be edited.

Nietzsche tended to equate the memorable with the painful.

Pragmatically, aesthetic value can be recognized or experienced, but it cannot be conveyed to those who are incapable of grasping its sensations and perceptions. To quarrel on its behalf is always a blunder.

Shakespeare's exquisite imagining belies our total inability to live in the present moment.

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

American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University