Harold Bloom


American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University

Author Quotes

The unity of a great era is generally an illusion.

Tradition is not only bending down, or process of benign transmission. It is also a conflict between past genius and present aspiration in which the price is literary survival or canonical inclusion.

All writers are to some extent inventors, describing people as they would like to see them in life.

Contrary to what some say Parisians, the text is not there to give pleasure, but the high displeasure or harder pleasure a smaller text will not.

Great literature will insist upon its self-sufficiency in the face of the worthiest causes

I don?t believe in myths of decline or myths of progress, even as regards to the literary scene. The world does not get to be a better or a worse place; it just gets more senescent. The world gets older, without getting either better or worse and so does literature.

Indeed the three prophecies about the death of individual art are, in their different ways, those of Hegel, Marx, and Freud. I don't see any way of getting beyond those prophecies.

Monsters of selfishness and exploitation. To read in the service of any ideology is not, in my judgment, to read at all. The reception of aesthetic power enables us to learn how to talk to ourselves and how to endure ourselves.

Our neo-historicist current, with its curious mixture of Foucault and Marx, are only a very minor episode in the long history of Platonism. Plato hoped, banishing the poet also banish the tyrant. Banish Shakespeare, or rather reduce it to their contexts, will not rid us of our tyrants.

Shakespeare and his few peers invented all of us.

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.

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American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University