Harold Bloom


American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University

Author Quotes

Characters carrying the playwright's disapproval is a un-Shakespearian burden.

Gertrude Stein maintained that one wrote for oneself and for strangers, a superb recognition that I would extend into a parallel apothegm: one reads for oneself and for strangers. 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 of the ineluctable stigmata of the canonical is aesthetic dignity, which is not to be hired.

I could not find any evidence that her circumstances had harmed Jane Austen's work in the slightest. That, perhaps, was the chief miracle about it. Here was a woman about the year 1800 writing without hate, without bitterness, without fear, without protest, without preaching. Her mind consumed all impediments.

In fact, it is Shakespeare who gives us the map of the mind. It is Shakespeare who invents Freudian Psychology. Freud finds ways of translating it into supposedly analytical vocabulary.

Marxism, famously a cry of pain rather than a science, has had its poets, but so has every other major religious heresy.

Originality must compound with inheritance.

Se se adora o deus comp¢sito dos processos hist¢ricos, est -se condenado a negar a Shakespeare sua palp vel supremacia est‚tica, a realmente gritante originalidade de suas pe‡as. A originalidade torna-se um equivalente liter rio de termos como empreendimento individual, autossuficiˆncia e competi‡?o, que n?o fazem a felicidade dos cora‡?es feministas, afrocentristas, marxistas, neo-historicistas foucaultianos ou desconstrutores - de todos que descrevi como membros da Escola do Ressentimento.

The art and passion of reading well and deeply is waning, but [Jane] Austen still inspires people to become fanatical readers.

The true use of Shakespeare or of Cervantes, of Homer or of Dante, of Chaucer or of Rabelais, is to augment one?s own growing inner self. Reading deeply in the Canon will not make one a better or a worse person, a more useful or more harmful citizen. The mind?s dialogue with itself is not primarily a social reality. All that the Western Canon can bring one is the proper use of one?s own solitude, that solitude whose final form is one?s confrontation with one?s own mortality. W

To read in the service of any ideology is not to read at all. The mind's dialogue with itself is not primarily a social reality. All that the Western canon can bring one is the proper use of one's own solitude.

All that a critic, as critic, can give poets is the deadly encouragement that never ceases to remind them of how heavy their inheritance is.

Consciousness is the materia poetica that Shakespeare sculpts as Michelangelo sculpts marble. We feel the consciousness of Hamlet or Iago, and our own consciousness strangely expands.

Gertrude Stein remarked that one writes for oneself and for strangers, which I translate as speaking both to myself (which is what great poetry teaches us how to do) and to those dissident readers around the world who in solitude instinctually reach out for quality in literature, disdaining the lemmings who devour J. K. Rowling and Stephen King as they race down the cliffs to intellectual suicide in the gray ocean of the Internet.

I define influence simply as literary love, tempered by defense. The defenses vary from poet to poet. But the overwhelming presence of love is vital to understanding how great literature works.

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

Memory is always in art, even when it works involuntarily.

Oscar Wilde?s beautiful untrue things that save the imagination from falling into careless habits of accuracy.

Seeking comfort through continuity, as grand voices somehow hold off the permanent darkness that gathers though it does not fall.

The Bible itself is less read than preached, less interpreted than brandished. Increasingly, pastors may drape a limply bound Book over the edges of the pulpit as they depart from it. Members of the congregation carry Bibles to church services; the pastor announces a long passage text for his sermon and waits for people to find it, then reads only the first verse of it before he takes off. The Book has become a talisman.

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.

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American Literary Critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University