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[[ Read E-pub ]] ⚪ The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages · Harold Bloom explores our Western literary tradition by concentrating on the works of twenty six authors central to the Canon He argues against ideology in literary criticism he laments the loss of intellectual and aesthetic standards he deplores multiculturalism, Marxism, feminism, neoconservatism, Afrocentrism, and the New Historicism Insisting instead upon the autonomy of the aesthetic, Bloom places Shakespeare at the center of the Western Canon Shakespeare has become the touchstone for all writers who come before and after him, whether playwrights poets or storytellers In the creation of character, Bloom maintains, Shakespeare has no true precursor and has left no one after him untouched Milton, Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Ibsen, Joyce, and Beckett were all indebted to him Tolstoy and Freud rebelled against him and Dante, Wordsworth, Austen, Dickens, Whitman, Dickinson, Proust, the modern Hispanic and Portuguese writers Borges, Neruda, and Pessoa are exquisite examples of how canonical writing is born of an originality fused with tradition Bloom concludes this provocative, trenchant work with a complete list of essential writers and books his vision of the Canon Harold Bloom is like your ornery grandpa he s very old fashioned, and goes on uncomfortable rants about the blacks and the feminists a lot, but if you keep listening you realize that he has real wisdom and an experience that you can learn something from You always complain about him when he s not around, but when he s gone , you wish you had stayed in his world a little longer This is referring to the end of the book, not Bloom s undoubtedly iminent death by rage induced heart attack What I Harold Bloom is like your ornery grandpa he s very old fashioned, and goes on uncomfortable rants about the blacks and the feminists a lot, but if you keep listening you realize that he has real wisdom and an experience that you can learn something from You always complain about him when he s not around, but when he s gone , you wish you had stayed in his world a little longer This is referring to the end of the book, not Bloom s undoubtedly iminent death by rage induced heart attack What I mean here is that despite this book being 500 pages I ended up wishing it was twice that length, which despite all of its faults earns it four stars Bloom s ugly rants about political correctness aren t as bad as they initially seem, as he does include most of the great authors of black and feminist literature in his canonical prediction at the end of the book It really just seems like someone somewhere put Alice Walker on a syllabus and Bloom hulked out GREAT LESSER KNOWN BOOKS BY WELL KNOWN AUTHORSI think these are probably not in Mr Bloom s book, and I want to know why 1 Ray Bradbury s history of British sport Something Wicket This Way Comes2 Charles Dickens novel on the ravages caused by tuberculosis, Great Expectorations3 Dostoievski s biography of George Bush, The Idiot I prefer that one to Raymond Chandler s The Big Creep 4 Mary Shelley on the current crisis in capitalism Investment Bankenstein5 Dickens again on the same topic Our M GREAT LESSER KNOWN BOOKS BY WELL KNOWN AUTHORSI think these are probably not in Mr Bloom s book, and I want to know why 1 Ray Bradbury s history of British sport Something Wicket This Way Comes2 Charles Dickens novel on the ravages caused by tuberculosis, Great Expectorations3 Dostoievski s biography of George Bush, The Idiot I prefer that one to Raymond Chandler s The Big Creep 4 Mary Shelley on the current crisis in capitalism Investment Bankenstein5 Dickens again on the same topic Our Mutual Fund6 Emily Bronte s furious denunciation of the condition of workers in a globalised economy Withering Rights7 Gustave Flaubert s true crime classic about an international IVF racket They Called Her Madame Ovary8 Jerome K Jerome s exposure of internet bestiality sites Three Men and a Goat not for the squeamish 9 Jack Kerouac s freewheeling journal of travels in pre Roman Britain On the Woad10 Jack Kerouac s account of the problems of travelling with a speech impediment On the Woad11 Vladimir Nabokov s standard technical manual on industrial temperature control in large indoor areas Blowheater12 Gunther Grass expose of poor standards in British 1950s catering The Grim Bun13 V S Naipaul s searing study of male sexual dysfunction A Bend in the Penis14 Alice Sebald s monograph on contemporary traffic management systems The Lovely Cones15 Jodi Picault s classic comedy of the 1980s My Sister s Beeper16 Elizabeth Gilbert s moving account of the life of an Italian goat Bleat, Graze, GloveSomething for everyone I think Why aren t these better known There was an old critic called Harold Bloom,Who thought Great Literature faced Final Doom,He resented all Schools,Other than his own Fools,So killed what he loved, and emptied the Room My reading experience after finishing has not changed the overall impression, but it has made me think, and I took away the second star, which initially was awarded for writing style and erudition Too much hatred, too much bias, and too much bigotry and repetition to getthan a solitary star for being a pri There was an old critic called Harold Bloom,Who thought Great Literature faced Final Doom,He resented all Schools,Other than his own Fools,So killed what he loved, and emptied the Room My reading experience after finishing has not changed the overall impression, but it has made me think, and I took away the second star, which initially was awarded for writing style and erudition Too much hatred, too much bias, and too much bigotry and repetition to getthan a solitary star for being a printed book with letters in it What makes Bloom seem like an impressive scholar , when he is clearly just repeating his mantra over and over again He has two main themes, actually The first is that Shakespeare is in every single work of fiction of any importance, and that Shakespeare always wins in an unspecified aesthetic value contest The other theme is that the School of Resentment is destroying great literature I added quotes from almost all parts of the book to the reading updates to show the consistency of his fixation, even when it seems absurd Here s a random quote that keeps repeating itself in every chapter in its myopic implied misogyny and monoculturalism bordering on open racism Pragmatically, the expansion of the Canon has meant the destruction of the Canon, since what is being taught includes by no means the best writers who happen to be women, African, Hispanic or Asian, but rather the writers who offer little but the resentment they have developed as part of their sense of identity There is no strangeness and no originality in such resentment even if there were, they would not suffice to create heirs to the Yahwist and Homer, Dante and Shakespeare, Cervantes and Joyce Apart from the irony that Bloom s book is immersed in his own identity shaping and unoriginal resentment, the problem also is that he can t SHOW the aesthetic distinction at all Despite the fact that he is obsessed with ranking authors on a scale with Shakespeare at the top, he cannot name a single objective criteria for doing that And he cannot offer any argument as to why he is blind to literary qualities outside his chosen circle obviously blindness prevents you from seeing what you don t see, so that is his disability rather than a fault, in a way, but can I really take a scholar seriously who has such a blindfold and proudly dons it too Midway through my reading process, I began to believe that Bloom pokers on exactly that kind of blindness in his worshippers How many of his followers have actually read the works he is referring to I can see that the comparisons between Don Quixote and The Divine Comedy, between Goethe s Faust, First Part and Kafka s works may seem like a display of boundless erudition if you can t really relate to the proper works he is talking about, to verify the arguments directly I suspect most people start with Bloom, and get to the Canon in a second step In that case, they will be impressed In my case, it was the opposite I have read almost all books he mentions in his text, and they are among my favourite all time reading experiences I do not challenge his choice of authors at all, just the exclusive and vindictive attitude he has to the rest of the literary universe, and I dislike the subjective, even chatty and unprofessional mode of analysis he applies to works I know and love He won t ever see them as masterpieces in their own right He always has to put them on a scale that is as vulgar as this one is better than that one , without following up with any proof as there is none, it is a matter of preference, not of substance That reminds me of my toddlers back in the day , when they argued whose drawing was best , and got into fistfights over it They have outgrown that stage of silly agon, and are now able to see different qualities in different works, but Bloom remains psychologically stuck in that mindset.Bloom s toddler rages started to amuse me once I knew what to expect The first pages were shocking, as I honestly thought it would be a literary analysis that can be taken seriously Now that I know better, I enjoyed the delusional journey of the dogmatic literature warriorIt is interesting from a social study point of view that Harold Bloom misunderstands the idea of literary agon to fit the American conservative concept of winners and losers in politics and business He keeps fretting that the war is lost , and that his side the army of Bloomian Shakespearianism aka Shakespearian Bloomianism , a fraction of literary criticism presumably comparable to a sub group of Mormonism in the context of Christianity has lost to The School of Resentment comprised of the world community of all the other literary confessions and the confessionless global reading citizens too There is such a great fear in his heart that what he considers the only way to perceive literature will die out with him And he is right, of course His highly subjective, hysterically emotional approach to Shakespeare and Dante et alii will indeed not survive his generation of angry white men protecting their inner circle by gaslighting whoever raises a reasonable argument for adiverse and inclusive approach to the world of literature Throwing an aesthetic value smoke bomb in the face of Alice Walker readers is as meaningless as it is effective to divert from the difficulties of his own arguments for esoteric preferences Judging literature from a purely aesthetic point of view is all well, but Harold Bloom simply can t see that this is not a synonym for what Harold Bloom likes Writing socially important fiction like Alice Walker or Toni Morrison or Virginia Woolf or Chinua Achebe or can be and is aesthetically valuable in the same way as writing for the sake of aesthetic value alone Which his heroes did not do, by the way So here is my status quo at this point Shakespeare is great despite his somewhat delusional prophet and missionary Bloom And luckily there areways to read Shakespeare than through the eyes of this overprivileged whiny grump He can be almost comical when he writes about Virginia Woolf, though, claiming she was not a feminist other than as an aesthete who does not see any social conditions working on art and this by quoting from A Room of One s Own which famously shows the social conditions of Shakespeare s times stifling women so that an imaginary sister of the Bard would have been impossible, never mind the aesthetic genes of the twin When he tries to do away with Woolf s strong arguments for an equal and fair society, he uses arguments that can be turned into a perfect summary against his own method, while it has absolutely nothing to do with the multifaceted literature that Woolf produced against all odds in a society dominated by Blooms in legion Woolf strongly insinuates that your disagreement with her urgency is founded on imperceptiveness.Bloom strongly insinuates that your disagreement with his urgency is founded on imperceptiveness If I were to give him something for his birthday, it would be a telescope, so he can watch the multitude of the stars of the literary sky As it is now, he is sitting there mumbling in front of his microscope, seeing nothing but Shakespeare mirrored in his own Bloomagnifying glass And yes, to add to his theory of literary influence, my gift is of course influenced by the wonderful Steinbeck and Mack and the boys, in Sweet Thursday The only spirit in Ulysses is Shakespeare In conversation with John Dryden, Milton once confessed rather too readily that Spenser was his Great Original, a remark that I have come to understand as a defense against Shakespeare Oedipus, I suggest, was hauled in by Freud and grafted onto Hamlet largely in order to cover up an obligation to Shakespeare Except for Shakespeare, Chaucer is foremost among writers in the English language KnowingEnglish would not have enlightened Tol The only spirit in Ulysses is Shakespeare In conversation with John Dryden, Milton once confessed rather too readily that Spenser was his Great Original, a remark that I have come to understand as a defense against Shakespeare Oedipus, I suggest, was hauled in by Freud and grafted onto Hamlet largely in order to cover up an obligation to Shakespeare Except for Shakespeare, Chaucer is foremost among writers in the English language KnowingEnglish would not have enlightened Tolstoy his fury at Shakespeare was defensive, though presumably he was unaware of it Harold Bloom represents everything that is wrong with everything I usually tend to hold dear intelligence, literature, higher education, lofty pretension, the belief that writing about artwork can be just as important as the artwork itself, the notion that the critic is something akin to a holy man He is the parasite suckling the sweet nectar of the gods out of the wide expanse of literature We are all very, very lucky that he has never deigned to notice any but the most obvious modern authors Pynchon, Roth, Delillo, and McCarthy Of course, that would involve writing about people who are alive and could defend themselves, and Bloom has the courage of a dozen Grail knights when it comes to making the most far spanning assumptions about very great, very intelligent, very talented, very dead men I m not quite sure how it is that Bloom has become so highly regarded in the study of literature, because he basically has one weapon in his arsenal which he pulls out at nearly every juncture The man writes Shakespeare often enough to demand a drinking game In the very first paragraph of his essay on Milton, he writes Shakespeare 9 times This is a rare moment of restraint for Bloom.Okay, okay, I am not simple I understand that Bloom has chosen to frame his western canon through the prism of Shakespeare In this way, Bloom s writing is very strikingly similar to the writing of one of my favorite non fiction novelists, David Thomson, who, in The Whole Equation, views the history of Hollywood through the double lens of F Scott Fitzgerald s The Last Tycoon and Robert Towne s Chinatown The difference is that Thomson is focusing on their treatment of Los Angeles, whereas Bloom is focusing on how Shakespeare invented literature, awareness, and humanity one of his books is Shakespeare the Invention of the Human.There is another important difference between Thomson and Bloom Thomson would have been a great novelist if he weren t so obsessed with the movies he says as much, or comes close to saying that, very often in his writing Bloom would have been a second rate used car salesman if someone, somewhere, hadn t given him the awful idea that he should write about writing.I realize Bloom knowsabout literature than practically anyone on the face of the earth This does not hide the fact that he understands literature less than your average ten year old and, over, that he is so unremittingly insistent upon some unchanging interpretation of literature, and so humorless in his consideration of writers and their writing, that his continued presence in the literary world is an insult to every single author he claims to praise in the book, Will Shakespeare included.Over and over again, like a king besieged by madness in an empty castle, he rails against the numerous people and forces who are arrayed against him feminists, marxists, culturists he references African American academics specifically and all non white academics generally This at first seems peppy and un PC, then lightly racist and sexist, before it settles in that Bloom simply has very little interest in most non Caucasian, non male, non Bloom concepts.And there s the Shakespeare You could argue Bloom doesn t, but strongly implies to the point of embarrassment that Shakespeare s influence has trickled down through the ages and social strata, so that an illiterate Sudanese orphan or a third generation Turkish guest worker immigrant in Berlin or Paris Hilton all live and breathe in his influence, just as you can argue that a butterfly in Brazil flaps a hurricane into existence on the other side of the world or that, when no one is around, trees that fall in forests hum Stairway to Heaven on their way down Because you can t really prove anything, you can say everything David Thomson gets away with this kind of thing because he is witty, because he carries himself like a fellow traveler, and because he has a certain British self deflation which gives his most madcap suggestions a twinkle as when, in his biography of Orson Welles, he casually notes that young Orson was racing through local Irish lassies in a small province just about nine months before Peter O Toole was born.Above all, David Thomson and I am talking about him so much only because there is so little to say about Bloom is daring, and perhaps self loathing, enough to question whether or not his primary influence the filmic art is actually rather silly, if not ruinous Bloom, conversely, declares, We owe to Shakespeare not only our representation of cognition but much of our capacity for cognition Bloom is openly declaring literature as religion, Shakespeare as God and the other way around, too which would place him, humbly, as the great outspoken prophet of a debased age a Daniel in Babylon.Too bad the tigers would just spit him back out