Harold Bloom


American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University

Author Quotes

Persuasion is a strong but subdued outrider.

Shakespeare will not make us better, and he will not make us worse, but he may teach us how to overhear ourselves when we talk to ourselves... he may teach us how to accept change in ourselves as in others, and perhaps even the final form of change.

The democratic age mourns the value of human beings.

The world does not get to be a better or a worse place; it just gets more senescent.

Vision is defined as a program for restoring the human.

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.

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.

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American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University