Harold Bloom


American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University

Author Quotes

The creator of Sir John Falstaff, of Hamlet, and of Rosalind also makes me wish I could be more myself. But that, as I argue throughout this book, is why we should read, and why we should read only the best of what has been written.

The very best of all Merwin: I have been reading William since 1952, and always with joy.

Unless you have read and absorbed the best that can be read and absorbed, you will not think clearly or well.

Almost anything at all can be transmuted into a labyrinth.

Criticism in the universities, I'll have to admit, has entered a phase where I am totally out of sympathy with 95% of what goes on. It's Stalinism without Stalin.

Great writing is always rewriting or revisionism, and is founded on a reading that clears space for the self.

I have never believed that the critic is the rival of the poet, but I do believe that criticism is a genre of literature or it does not exist.

Infinite Jest? is just awful. It seems ridiculous to have to say it.

More even than Southern Presbyterians and Southern Methodists, the Baptists provided the great mass of Confederate enlisted men.

People cannot stand the saddest truth I know about the very nature of reading and writing imaginative literature, which is that poetry does not teach us how to talk to other people: it teaches us how to talk to ourselves. What I

Shakespeare is the true multicultural author. He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere. Everyone feels that they are represented by him on the stage.

The defense of the great works of Western literature can no longer be undertaken by central institutional power though it is hard to see how the normal operation of learned institutions, including recruitment can manage without them.

The Western Canon does not exist in order to augment preexisting societal elites. It is there to be read by you and by strangers, so that you and those you will never meet can encounter authentic aesthetic power and the authority of what Baudelaire (and Erich Auerbach after him) called aesthetic dignity. One

Until you become yourself, Bloom avers, what benefit can you be to others.

American Religionists, when I questioned them, frequently said that falling in love was affirming again Christ?s love for each of them.

Criticism starts - it has to start - with a real passion for reading. It can come in adolescence, even in your twenties, but you must fall in love with poems.

Greatness recognizes greatness, and is shadowed by it.

I have read all of Daniel Aaron's books, and admired them, but in The Americanist I believe he has composed an intellectual and social memoir for which he will be remembered. His self-portrait is marked by personal tact and admirable restraint: he is and is not its subject. The Americanist is a vision of otherness: literary and academic friends and acquaintances, here and abroad. Eloquently phrased and free of nostalgia, it catches a lost world that yet engendered much of our own.

Infinite knowledge can never wonder. All wonder is the effect of novelty upon ignorance.

My introduction, implicitly echoing Oscar Wilde's remark that all bad poetry is sincere, grants the benign social decency of [Stephen] King's fictions.

Personality, in our sense, is a Shakespearean invention.

Shakespeare is universal.

The defense of the Western Canon is in no way a defense of the West or a nationalist enterprise. . . . The greatest enemies of aesthetic and cognitive standards are purported defenders who blather to us about moral and political values in literature. We do not live by the ethics of the Iliad, or by the politics of Plato. Those who teach interpretation have more in common with the Sophists than with Socrates. What can we expect Shakespeare to do for our semiruined society, since the function of Shakespearean drama has so little to do with civic virtue or social justice?

The work of great poetry is to aid us to become free artists ourselves...The art of reading poetry is an authentic training in the augmentation of consciousness, perhaps the most authentic of healthy modes.

Urging the need for community upon American religionists is a vain enterprise; the experiential encounter with Jesus or God is too overwhelming for memories of community to abide, and the believer returns from the abyss of ecstasy with the self-enhanced and otherness devalued.

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Birth Date

American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University