Harold Bloom


American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University

Author Quotes

The freedom to apprehend aesthetic value may rise from class conflict, but the value is not identical with the freedom, even if it cannot be achieved without that apprehension. Aesthetic value is by definition engendered by an interaction between artists, an influencing that is always an interpretation.

The world gets older, without getting either better or worse and so does literature. But I do think that the drab current phenomenon that passes for literary studies in the university will finally provide its own corrective.

Wallace Stevens turns to the idea of the weather precisely as the religious man turns to the idea of God.

At our present bad moment, we need above all to recover our sense of literary individuality and of poetic autonomy.

Denying Ahab greatness is an aesthetic blunder: He is akin to Achilles, Odysseus, and King David in one register, and to Don Quixote, Hamlet, and the High Romantic Prometheus of Goethe and Shelley in another. Call the first mode a transcendent heroism and the second the persistence of vision. Both ways are antithetical to nature and protest against our mortality. The epic hero will never submit or yield.

He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

I take it that a successful therapy is an oxymoron.

It has always been dangerous to institutionalize hope, and we no longer live in a society in which we will be allowed to institutionalize memory.

No , no I'm not an atheist . it's no fun being an atheist .

Read deeply, not to believe, not to accept, not to contradict, but to learn to share in that one nature that writes and reads.

Since ideology, particularly in its shallower versions, is peculiarly destructive of the capacity to apprehend and appreciate irony, I suggest that the recovery of the ironic might be our fifth principle for the restoration of reading. ... But with this principle, I am close to despair, since you can no more teach someone to be ironic than you can instruct them to become solitary. And yet the loss of irony is the death of reading, and of what had been civilized in our natures.

The idea of Herman Melville in a writing class is always distressing to me.

There are indeed millions of Christians in the United States, but most Americans who think that they are Christians truly are something else, intensely religious but devout in the American Religion, a faith that is old among us, and that comes in many guises and disguises, and that overdetermines much of our national life.

Walter Pater defined Romanticism as adding strangeness to beauty.

Bad writing is all the same; good writing is a scandalous diversity.

Don?t be looking for trifles, Se¤or Don Quixote, or expect things to be impossibly perfect. Are not a thousand comedies performed almost every day that are full of inaccuracies and absurdities, yet they run their course and are received not only with applause but with admiration and all the rest?

How to read "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.

I think Freud is about contamination, but I think that is something he learned from Shakespeare, because Shakespeare is about nothing but contamination, you might say.

It is by extending oneself, by exercising some capacity previously unused that you come to a better knowledge of your own potential.

No one has yet managed to be post-Shakespearean.

Reading the very best writers?let us say Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Tolstoy?is not going to make us better citizens. Art is perfectly useless, according to the sublime Oscar Wilde, who was right about everything. He also told us that all bad poetry is sincere. Had I the power to do so, I would command that these words be engraved above every gate at every university, so that each student might ponder the splendor of the insight.

Socrates, in Plato, formulates ideas of order: the Iliad, like Shakespeare, knows that a violent disorder is a great order.

The inventor knows HOW to borrow.

There is a God, and his name is Aristophanes.

We all fear loneliness, madness, dying. Shakespeare and Walt Whitman, Leopardi and Hart Crane will not cure those fears. And yet these poets bring us fire and light.

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Birth Date

American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University