Discussion:
Prof. Harold Bloom, 89, Yale academician/literary scholar -- he's a bum and I hate him!
(too old to reply)
That Derek
2019-10-15 04:32:42 UTC
Permalink
[Around 1999, Professor Harold Bloom published a magnum opus titled "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human." Bloom's ongoing thesis of this tome was essentially that we, as humans, were unable to express our feelings and emotions until the Bard of Avon came along and taught us how. This was just idiotic.

[This book analyzed Shakespeare's oeuvre -- all of his plays -- and it really became quite tedious when we recorded this as a Talking Book. At one point in the narrative -- and I have forgotten which chapter/play analysis -- Bloom made an interesting conjecture.

[He wrote that whenever he and his wife watch a "bad" movie, he imagines how the film's trajectory would go if Groucho Marx was randomly introduced into the film's proceedings.

[Well, this prompted me to write to him. I found a "snail mail" mailing address for Bloom at Yale and rejoindered: What if it's a bad movie and Groucho Marx is already in it? I suggested to him that Groucho never made a good movie away from the Marx Brothers with examples such as "Double Dynamite," "The Story of Mankind," and "Skidoo," plus most of the Marx Bros. post-"Room Service" canon throughout the 1940s. Even the great song "Lydia, the Tattoed Lady" could not salvage "At the Circus."

[I waited for a response and that snobbish bum never answered me.

[In my lifetime, I have only despised three celebrities/public figures, viz. Prince Charles Mountbatten-WIndsor (it's personal), Garrison Keillor (it's personal), and Leni Riefenstahl (I never met her; I just never cared for her having been an unrepentant Nazi sympathiser with her "I was just following orders -- they made me make those Nazi movies" attitude).

[Prof. Harold Bloom just was not worthy for me to expand my list to include him. That bum-asaurus never should have blown me off. I 'm not glad he's dead; I save that sentiment for the Osama bin Ladens of the world.

[Gotta go. Talking about Harold Bloom has given me a headache and I need to take one of those Shakespearean aspirins. You lnow, the ones that come in Capulets!]

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/oct/14/harold-bloom-literary-critic-yale-professor-dies-89

US news

Harold Bloom, author and literary critic, dies at age 89

He prided himself on making scholarly topics accessible to readers and wrote the bestsellers The Western Canon and The Book of J

Associated Press

Mon 14 Oct 2019 17.53 EDT

Harold Bloom, the eminent critic and Yale professor whose seminal The Anxiety of Influence and melancholy regard for literature’s old masters made him a popular author and standard-bearer of Western civilization amid modern trends, died Monday at age 89.

Bloom’s wife, Jeanne, said that he had been failing health, although he continued to write books and was teaching as recently as last week. Yale says Bloom died at a New Haven, Connecticut, hospital.

Bloom wrote more than 20 books and prided himself on making scholarly topics accessible to the general reader. Although he frequently bemoaned the decline of literary standards, he was as well placed as a contemporary critic could hope to be. He appeared on bestseller lists with such works as “The Western Canon” and “The Book of J,” was a guest on “Good Morning America” and other programs and was a National Book Award finalist and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

His greatest legacy could well outlive his own name: the title of his breakthrough book, The Anxiety of Influence. Bloom argued that creativity was not a grateful bow to the past, but a Freudian wrestle in which artists denied and distorted their literary ancestors while producing work that revealed an unmistakable debt.

He was referring to poetry in his 1973 publication, but “anxiety of influence” has come to mean how artists of any kind respond to their inspirations. Bloom’s theory has been endlessly debated, parodied and challenged, including by Bloom.

Bloom openly acknowledged his own heroes, among them Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson and the 19th century critic Walter Pater. He honored no boundaries between the life of the mind and life itself and absorbed the printed word to the point of fashioning himself after a favorite literary character, Shakespeare’s betrayed, but life-affirming Falstaff. Bloom’s affinity began at age 12 and he more than lived up to his hero’s oversized aura in person. For decades he ranged about the Yale campus, with untamed hair and an anguished, theatrical voice, given to soliloquies over the present’s plight.

The youngest of five children, he was born in 1930 in New York’s East Bronx to Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Russia, neither of whom ever learned to read English. Bloom’s literary journey began with Yiddish poetry, but he soon discovered the works of Hart Crane, T S Eliot, William Blake and other poets. He would allege that as a young man he could absorb 1,000 pages at a time.

He graduated in 1951 from Cornell University, where he studied under the celebrated critic M H Abrams, and lived abroad as a Fulbright Scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge. After earning his doctorate degree from Yale in 1955, he joined the school’s English faculty. Bloom married Jeanne Gould in 1958 and had two sons.

In the ’50s, he opposed the rigid classicism of Eliot. But over the following decades, Bloom condemned Afrocentrism, feminism, Marxism and other movements he placed in the “school of resentment”. A proud elitist, he disliked the Harry Potter books and slam poetry and was angered by Stephen King’s receiving an honorary National Book Award. He dismissed as “pure political correctness” the awarding of the Nobel Prize for literature to Doris Lessing, author of the feminist classic The Golden Notebook.

“I am your true Marxist critic,” he once wrote, “following Groucho rather than Karl, and take as my motto Groucho’s grand admonition, ‘Whatever it is, I’m against it.’”

In The Western Canon, published in 1994, Bloom named the 26 crucial writers in Western literature, from Dante to Samuel Beckett, and declared Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo among the contemporary greats. Shakespeare reigned at the canon’s center.

Many, however, had their own harsh criticism of Bloom. He was mocked as out of touch and accused of recycling a small number of themes. “Bloom had an idea; now the idea has him,” British critic Christopher Ricks once observed.

Bloom’s praises were not reserved for white men. In The Book of J, released in 1990, Bloom stated that some parts of the Bible were written by a woman. (He often praised the God of the Old Testament as one of the greatest fictional characters). He also admired Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, George Eliot and Emily Dickinson and the hundreds of critical editions he edited include works on Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and Amy Tan. Bloom did write a novel, The Flight to Lucifer, but was no more effective than most critics attempting fiction and later disowned the book. In The Anatomy of Influence, a summation released in 2011, Bloom called himself an epicurean who acknowledged no higher power other than art, living for “moments raised in quality by aesthetic appreciation”.

His resistance to popular culture was emphatic, but not absolute. He was fond of the rock group The Band and fascinated by the Rev Jimmy Swaggart and other televangelists. He even confessed to watching MTV, telling The Paris Review in 1990 that “what is going on there, not just in the lyrics but in its whole ambience, is the real vision of what the country needs and desires. It’s the image of reality that it sees, and it’s quite weird and wonderful.”
m***@gmail.com
2019-10-15 15:25:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by That Derek
[Around 1999, Professor Harold Bloom published a magnum opus titled "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human." Bloom's ongoing thesis of this tome was essentially that we, as humans, were unable to express our feelings and emotions until the Bard of Avon came along and taught us how. This was just idiotic.
[This book analyzed Shakespeare's oeuvre -- all of his plays -- and it really became quite tedious when we recorded this as a Talking Book. At one point in the narrative -- and I have forgotten which chapter/play analysis -- Bloom made an interesting conjecture.
[He wrote that whenever he and his wife watch a "bad" movie, he imagines how the film's trajectory would go if Groucho Marx was randomly introduced into the film's proceedings.
[Well, this prompted me to write to him. I found a "snail mail" mailing address for Bloom at Yale and rejoindered: What if it's a bad movie and Groucho Marx is already in it? I suggested to him that Groucho never made a good movie away from the Marx Brothers with examples such as "Double Dynamite," "The Story of Mankind," and "Skidoo," plus most of the Marx Bros. post-"Room Service" canon throughout the 1940s. Even the great song "Lydia, the Tattoed Lady" could not salvage "At the Circus."
[I waited for a response and that snobbish bum never answered me.
[In my lifetime, I have only despised three celebrities/public figures, viz. Prince Charles Mountbatten-WIndsor (it's personal), Garrison Keillor (it's personal), and Leni Riefenstahl (I never met her; I just never cared for her having been an unrepentant Nazi sympathiser with her "I was just following orders -- they made me make those Nazi movies" attitude).
[Prof. Harold Bloom just was not worthy for me to expand my list to include him. That bum-asaurus never should have blown me off. I 'm not glad he's dead; I save that sentiment for the Osama bin Ladens of the world.
[Gotta go. Talking about Harold Bloom has given me a headache and I need to take one of those Shakespearean aspirins. You lnow, the ones that come in Capulets!]
< snip>

Glad to see you're not bitter. ;-)
l***@yahoo.com
2019-10-15 18:16:34 UTC
Permalink
Elsewhere, in 2013, I wrote:

...while Bloom implied in his introduction that his collection (Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages - it's mostly pre-WWI literature) is not meant for kids under 5, that hardly justifies not including ANY pictures, for crying out loud! I, personally, would start introducing 5- to 10-year-olds to poetry with many other collections WITH illustrations, including The Golden Treasury of Poetry (1955, ed. Louis Untermeyer). BTW, the illustrator for that book, Joan Walsh Anglund, is almost 90 and living in Connecticut!
_______________________________________

But, as I just found out, he also edited THIS book, in 1997 - "Women Writers of Children's Literature."

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/harold-bloom/women-writers-of-childrens-literature/
(review)


And:

Anonymous: He claims to have the divine foresight to know that no child who ever reads Harry Potter will ever go on to "The Wind in the Willows" or Lewis Carroll.'
_____________________________

Me: I think what Bloom was saying is that candy, by itself, doesn't lead to a passionate appetite for non-candy, though he would never phrase it that way. Smart parents don't just sit back and wait for kids to take an interest in books that actually challenge their brains when all they've EVER picked up is trash.

On that, I can agree. After all, as Miss Manners once said (she was talking about volunteer work, as it happened): "Reverse psychology is all very well, but Miss Manners doubts that removing the algebra requirement, for example, would inspire otherwise dilatory students with an interest in algebra."

What I DON'T agree on is Bloom's unspoken idea that TEACHERS should have no sympathy for neglected kids, per se, who have no books at home and no adults who read to them. To get kids to read for fun, after all, you have to convince them that reading CAN be fun and not a miserable, unsocial, solitary chore. If they're over a certain age and have never read for fun, the teacher clearly has to suggest books that are highly popular NOW, whether those titles have had the chance to stand the test of time or not.

Neglected kids are not spoiled kids, period. Not to mention that Bloom can't seem to grasp that even before television, there were always parents and kids who didn't like to read and had to be enticed to enjoy it, one way or another. (If he seldom or never meets people outside of Ivy League families, it's no wonder he doesn't care much about such neglected kids.)


Reviews of the book:

https://www.google.com/search?ei=TwqmXYKWK6W3ggej-KLQAg&q=%22stories+and+poems+for+extremely+intelligent%22&oq=%22stories+and+poems+for+extremely+intelligent%22&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i30.1178.1816..2053...0.0..0.74.147.2......0....1..gws-wiz.1dN2k-UHVQs&ved=0ahUKEwjC-dqW7Z7lAhWlm-AKHSO8CCoQ4dUDCAo&uact=5

One critic said:

Grades 3-8--Bloom believes that his intended audience needs few, if any, selections written after World War I. Most stories and poems in this collection come from the 19th century and earlier. Authors represented include Aesop, Rudyard Kipling, Edward Lear, Christina Rossetti, Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christopher Smart, William Shakespeare, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and many more. In his introduction, Bloom states: "-`Children's Literature'-is a mask for the dumbing-down that is destroying our literary culture. Most of what is now commercially offered as children's literature would be inadequate fare for any reader of any age at any time." Emotionally intelligent readers of all ages should be aware that Bloom's taste runs to black humor. Some of his selections, like Hans Christian Andersen's "The Red Shoes," O. Henry's "Witches' Loaves," or Mark Twain's "Journalism in Tennessee," are darkly cruel or savagely ironic. The selections are arranged thematically by the four seasons; there is no index. This collection of classic authors might be useful in a small library in need of poetry and prose from the Western canon. Libraries still owning Walter de la Mare's distinguished Come Hither (Knopf, 1923; o.p.) may pass, as may others who own works by the authors included or various Oxford collections of poetry. Bloom's collection is clearly not aimed at children's librarians, but at book-buying parents. Its consumer-flattering title recalls those conning tailors Hans Christian Andersen described in "The Emperor's New Clothes," a story conspicuously absent from this volume.

Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams




Lenona.
g***@gmail.com
2019-10-20 07:34:53 UTC
Permalink
Howard Nemerov said memorably of Bloom that 'his form is logic but his essence is confusion'.
Steve Hayes
2019-10-21 07:49:19 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 14 Oct 2019 21:32:42 -0700 (PDT), That Derek
<***@yahoo.com> wrote:

[Around 1999, Professor Harold Bloom published a magnum opus titled
"Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human." Bloom's ongoing thesis of
this tome was essentially that we, as humans, were unable to express
our feelings and emotions until the Bard of Avon came along and taught
us how. This was just idiotic.

[This book analyzed Shakespeare's oeuvre -- all of his plays -- and it
really became quite tedious when we recorded this as a Talking Book.
At one point in the narrative -- and I have forgotten which
chapter/play analysis -- Bloom made an interesting conjecture.

[He wrote that whenever he and his wife watch a "bad" movie, he
imagines how the film's trajectory would go if Groucho Marx was
randomly introduced into the film's proceedings.

[Well, this prompted me to write to him. I found a "snail mail"
mailing address for Bloom at Yale and rejoindered: What if it's a bad
movie and Groucho Marx is already in it? I suggested to him that
Groucho never made a good movie away from the Marx Brothers with
examples such as "Double Dynamite," "The Story of Mankind," and
"Skidoo," plus most of the Marx Bros. post-"Room Service" canon
throughout the 1940s. Even the great song "Lydia, the Tattoed Lady"
could not salvage "At the Circus."

[I waited for a response and that snobbish bum never answered me.

[In my lifetime, I have only despised three celebrities/public
figures, viz. Prince Charles Mountbatten-WIndsor (it's personal),
Garrison Keillor (it's personal), and Leni Riefenstahl (I never met
her; I just never cared for her having been an unrepentant Nazi
sympathiser with her "I was just following orders -- they made me make
those Nazi movies" attitude).

[Prof. Harold Bloom just was not worthy for me to expand my list to
include him. That bum-asaurus never should have blown me off. I 'm not
glad he's dead; I save that sentiment for the Osama bin Ladens of the
world.

[Gotta go. Talking about Harold Bloom has given me a headache and I
need to take one of those Shakespearean aspirins. You lnow, the ones
that come in Capulets!]

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/oct/14/harold-bloom-literary-critic-yale-professor-dies-89

US news

Harold Bloom, author and literary critic, dies at age 89

He prided himself on making scholarly topics accessible to readers and
wrote the bestsellers The Western Canon and The Book of J

Associated Press

Mon 14 Oct 2019 17.53 EDT

Harold Bloom, the eminent critic and Yale professor whose seminal The
Anxiety of Influence and melancholy regard for literature’s old
masters made him a popular author and standard-bearer of Western
civilization amid modern trends, died Monday at age 89.

Bloom’s wife, Jeanne, said that he had been failing health, although
he continued to write books and was teaching as recently as last week.
Yale says Bloom died at a New Haven, Connecticut, hospital.

Bloom wrote more than 20 books and prided himself on making scholarly
topics accessible to the general reader. Although he frequently
bemoaned the decline of literary standards, he was as well placed as a
contemporary critic could hope to be. He appeared on bestseller lists
with such works as “The Western Canon” and “The Book of J,” was a
guest on “Good Morning America” and other programs and was a National
Book Award finalist and a member of the American Academy of Arts and
Letters.

His greatest legacy could well outlive his own name: the title of his
breakthrough book, The Anxiety of Influence. Bloom argued that
creativity was not a grateful bow to the past, but a Freudian wrestle
in which artists denied and distorted their literary ancestors while
producing work that revealed an unmistakable debt.

He was referring to poetry in his 1973 publication, but “anxiety of
influence” has come to mean how artists of any kind respond to their
inspirations. Bloom’s theory has been endlessly debated, parodied and
challenged, including by Bloom.

Bloom openly acknowledged his own heroes, among them Shakespeare,
Samuel Johnson and the 19th century critic Walter Pater. He honored no
boundaries between the life of the mind and life itself and absorbed
the printed word to the point of fashioning himself after a favorite
literary character, Shakespeare’s betrayed, but life-affirming
Falstaff. Bloom’s affinity began at age 12 and he more than lived up
to his hero’s oversized aura in person. For decades he ranged about
the Yale campus, with untamed hair and an anguished, theatrical voice,
given to soliloquies over the present’s plight.

The youngest of five children, he was born in 1930 in New York’s East
Bronx to Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Russia, neither of whom ever
learned to read English. Bloom’s literary journey began with Yiddish
poetry, but he soon discovered the works of Hart Crane, T S Eliot,
William Blake and other poets. He would allege that as a young man he
could absorb 1,000 pages at a time.

He graduated in 1951 from Cornell University, where he studied under
the celebrated critic M H Abrams, and lived abroad as a Fulbright
Scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge. After earning his doctorate
degree from Yale in 1955, he joined the school’s English faculty.
Bloom married Jeanne Gould in 1958 and had two sons.

In the ’50s, he opposed the rigid classicism of Eliot. But over the
following decades, Bloom condemned Afrocentrism, feminism, Marxism and
other movements he placed in the “school of resentment”. A proud
elitist, he disliked the Harry Potter books and slam poetry and was
angered by Stephen King’s receiving an honorary National Book Award.
He dismissed as “pure political correctness” the awarding of the Nobel
Prize for literature to Doris Lessing, author of the feminist classic
The Golden Notebook.

“I am your true Marxist critic,” he once wrote, “following Groucho
rather than Karl, and take as my motto Groucho’s grand admonition,
‘Whatever it is, I’m against it.’”

In The Western Canon, published in 1994, Bloom named the 26 crucial
writers in Western literature, from Dante to Samuel Beckett, and
declared Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo among the
contemporary greats. Shakespeare reigned at the canon’s center.

Many, however, had their own harsh criticism of Bloom. He was mocked
as out of touch and accused of recycling a small number of themes.
“Bloom had an idea; now the idea has him,” British critic Christopher
Ricks once observed.

Bloom’s praises were not reserved for white men. In The Book of J,
released in 1990, Bloom stated that some parts of the Bible were
written by a woman. (He often praised the God of the Old Testament as
one of the greatest fictional characters). He also admired Virginia
Woolf, Jane Austen, George Eliot and Emily Dickinson and the hundreds
of critical editions he edited include works on Toni Morrison, Maya
Angelou and Amy Tan. Bloom did write a novel, The Flight to Lucifer,
but was no more effective than most critics attempting fiction and
later disowned the book. In The Anatomy of Influence, a summation
released in 2011, Bloom called himself an epicurean who acknowledged
no higher power other than art, living for “moments raised in quality
by aesthetic appreciation”.

His resistance to popular culture was emphatic, but not absolute. He
was fond of the rock group The Band and fascinated by the Rev Jimmy
Swaggart and other televangelists. He even confessed to watching MTV,
telling The Paris Review in 1990 that “what is going on there, not
just in the lyrics but in its whole ambience, is the real vision of
what the country needs and desires. It’s the image of reality that it
sees, and it’s quite weird and wonderful.”

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