Harold Bloom

Harold
Bloom
1930

American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University

Author Quotes

Stephen King is Cervantes compared with David Foster Wallace. We have no standards left.

The old-fashioned sins of reading is the only sense that matters.

Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.

We can be reluctant to recognize how much of our culture was literary, particularly now that so many of the institutional purveyors of literature happily have joined in proclaiming its death. A substantial number of Americans who believe they worship God actually worship three major literary characters: the Yahweh of the J Writer (earliest author of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers), the Jesus of the Gospel of Mark, and Allah of the Koran.

A superb and dreadfully moving account of the glory and subsequent murder by the Romanians of the Jewish city in Odessa... Odessa is both celebration and lament and equally impressive as both.

But in the end, in the end one is alone. We are all of us alone. I mean I'm told these days we have to consider ourselves as being in society... but in the end one knows one is alone, that one lives at the heart of a solitude.

Exist In the finest critics one hears the full cry of the human. They tell one why it matters to read.

I can only write with a ballpoint pen, with a Rolling Writer, they?re called, a black Rolling Writer on a lined yellow legal pad on a certain kind of clipboard. And then someone else types it.

If I were to sum up the negative reactions to my work, I think there are two primary causes: one is that if there is discourse about anxiety it is necessarily going to induce anxiety. It will represent a return of the repressed for a great many people.

King die hard, in Shakespeare and in life.

One doesn't want to read badly any more than live badly, since time will not relent. I don't know that we owe God or nature a death, but nature will collect anyway, and we certainly owe mediocrity nothing, whatever collectivity it purports to advance or at least represent.

Rebecca Mead's My Life in Middlemarch is a wise, humane, and delightful study of what some regard as the best novel in English. Mead has discovered an original and highly personal way to make herself an inhabitant both of the book and of George Eliot's imaginary city. Though I have read and taught the book these many years I find myself desiring to go back to it after reading Rebecca Mead's work.

Such a reader does not read for easy pleasure or to expiate social guilt, but to enlarge a solitary existence.

The originals are not original, but that Emersonian irony yield to the Emersonian pragmatism that the inventor knows how to borrow.

There's very little authentic study of the humanities remaining. My research assistant came to me two years ago saying she'd been in a seminar in which the teacher spent two hours saying that Walt Whitman was a racist. This isn't even good nonsense. It's insufferable.

We possess the Canon because we are mortal and also rather belated. There is only so much time, and time must have a stop, while there is more to read than there ever was before. From the Yahwist and Homer to Freud, Kafka, and Beckett is a journey of nearly three millennia. Since that voyage goes past harbors as infinite as Dante, Chaucer, Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy, all of whom amply compensate a lifetime's re-readings, we are in the pragmatic dilemma of excluding something else each time we read or reread extensively.

Aesthetic criticism returns us to the autonomy of imaginative literature and the sovereignty of the solitary soul, the reader not as a person in society but as the deep self, our ultimate inwardness.

Calling a work of sufficient literary power either religious or secular is a political decision, not an aesthetic one.

For Ibsen, gusto forgives almost everything.

I can?t bear these accounts I read in the Times and elsewhere of these poetry slams, in which various young men and women in various late-spots are declaiming rant and nonsense at each other. The whole thing is judged by an applause meter which is actually not there, but might as well be. This isn?t even silly; it is the death of art.

If they wish to alleviate the sufferings of the exploited classes, let them live up to their pretensions, let them abandon the academy and go out there and work politically and economically and in a humanitarian spirit.

Lawrence will go on burying his own undertakers.

One mark of originality that can win canonical status for a literary work is strangeness that we either never altogether assimilate, or that becomes such a given that we are blinded to its idiosyncrasies.

Rereading old books is the highest form of literary pleasure and instructs you in what is deepest in your own yearnings. Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you, because it is, at least in my experience, the most healing of pleasures. It returns you to otherness, whether in yourself or in friends. Imaginative literature is otherness and as such, alleviates loneliness.

Terror and rapture to Emily Dickinson are alternative words for transport.

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

American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University