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« Free Reads -- Phillip De Vous on Portland | Main | Always Drive the Speed Limit »

July 24, 2003

Free Reads -- Harold Bloom

Friedrich --

Harold Bloom: the Last Good Critic, or a tiresome old gasbag? Jennie Rothenberg interviews him for The Atlantic online, here.

Sample passage:

I left the English department twenty-six years ago. I just divorced them and became, as I like to put it, Professor of Absolutely Nothing. To a rather considerable extent, literary studies have been replaced by that incredible absurdity called cultural studies which, as far as I can tell, are neither cultural nor are they studies. But there has always been an arrogance, I think, of the semi-learned ...

And, of course, we have this nonsense called Theory with a capital T, mostly imported from the French and now having evilly taken root in the English-speaking world. And that, I suppose, also has encouraged absurd attitudes toward what we used to call imaginative literature.



posted by Michael at July 24, 2003


Of course, he could be both...

Posted by: Charlie B on July 24, 2003 9:52 AM

But Bloom himself comes with a fairly formidable, albeit reasonably jargon-free, theoretical apparatus: to wit, Freud and "the anxiety of influence." Bloom could reasonably be charged with just preferring an earlier generation of theory to the current generation of theory; in other words, "old fogeyism." Sadly, the growth of capital "T" Theory has not made Professor Bloom criticize or rethink his own Modernist intellectual apparatus, which would be a better use of his time than dismissing Post-Modernist practice of the same activities that made his own career.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on July 24, 2003 11:37 AM

Charlie -- I think you're on to something there.

FvB -- Yeah, that "anxiety of influence" thing of Bloom's gives me a pain in the neck too. What can be said in Bloom's favor despite it is that he still gets off the occasional well-phrased (and un-theory-bound) observation or appreciation -- he says some perceptive and useful things, and in clear English. Which isn't something that could be claimed for many of the Theory types. And I say this as someone who isn't much of a Bloom fan...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 24, 2003 1:38 PM

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