Noted for her witty depictions of English country life and sharply satirical views of class structure and human behavior, nineteenth-century novelist Jane Austen's works, which include such classics as Emma and Pride and Prejudice, possess a timeless appeal for both general readers and literary scholars. This volume showcases essays and commentary from Austen's own time period and beyond that collectively create a unique portrait of a writer whose works have remained relevant ...
Noted for her witty depictions of English country life and sharply satirical views of class structure and human behavior, nineteenth-century novelist Jane Austen's works, which include such classics as Emma and Pride and Prejudice, possess a timeless appeal for both general readers and literary scholars. This volume showcases essays and commentary from Austen's own time period and beyond that collectively create a unique portrait of a writer whose works have remained relevant for more than two centuries.
One of our most popular, respected, and controversial literary critics, Yale University professor Harold Bloom’s books – about, variously, Shakespeare, the Bible, and the classic literature – are as erudite as they are accessible.
"Authentic literature doesn't divide us," the scholar and literary critic Harold Bloom once said. "It addresses itself to the solitary individual or consciousness." Revered and sometimes reviled as a champion of the Western canon, Bloom insists on the importance of reading authors such as Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer -- not because they transmit certain approved cultural values, but because they transcend the limits of culture, and thus enlarge rather than constrict our sense of what it means to be human. As Bloom explained in an interview, "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."
Bloom began his career by tackling the formidable legacy of T.S. Eliot, who had dismissed the English Romantic poets as undisciplined nature-worshippers. Bloom construed the Romantic poets' visions of immortality as rebellions against nature, and argued that an essentially Romantic imagination was still at work in the best modernist poets.
Having restored the Romantics to critical respectability, Bloom advanced a more general theory of poetry. His now-famous The Anxiety of Influence argued that any strong poem is a creative "misreading" of the poet's predecessor. The book raised, as the poet John Hollander wrote, "profound questions about... how the prior visions of other poems are, for a true poet, as powerful as his own dreams and as formative as his domestic childhood." In addition to developing this theory, Bloom wrote several books on sacred texts. In The Book of J, he suggested that some of the oldest parts of the Bible were written by a woman.
The Book of J was a bestseller, but it was the 1994 publication of The Western Canon that made the critic-scholar a household name. In it, Bloom decried what he called the "School of Resentment" and the use of political correctness as a basis for judging works of literature. His defense of the threatened canon formed, according to The New York Times, a "passionate demonstration of why some writers have triumphantly escaped the oblivion in which time buries almost all human effort."
Bloom placed Shakespeare along with Dante at the center of the Western canon, and he made another defense of Shakespeare's centrality with Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, an illuminating study of Shakespeare's plays. How to Read and Why (2000) revisited Shakespeare and other writers in the Bloom pantheon, and described the act of reading as both a spiritual exercise and an aesthetic pleasure.
Recently, Bloom took up another controversial stance when he attacked Harry Potter in an essay for The Wall Street Journal. His 2001 book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages advanced an alternative to contemporary children's lit, with a collection of classic works of literature "worthy of rereading" by people of all ages.
The poet and editor David Lehman said that "while there are some critics who are known for a certain subtlety and a certain judiciousness, there are other critics... who radiate ferocious passion." Harold Bloom is a ferociously passionate reader for whom literary criticism is, as he puts it, "the art of making what is implicit in the text as finely explicit as possible."
Good To Know
Bloom earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1955 and was hired as a Yale faculty member that same year. In 1965, at the age of 35, he became one of the youngest scholars in Yale history to be appointed full professor in the department of English. He is now Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale and Berg Visiting Professor of English at New York University.
Though some conservative commentators embraced Bloom's canon as a return to traditional moral values, Bloom, who once styled himself "a Truman Democrat," dismisses attempts by both left- and right-wingers to politicize literature. "To read in the service of any ideology is not, in my judgment, to read at all," he told a New York Times interviewer.
His great affinity for Shakespeare has put Bloom in the unlikely position of stage actor on occasion; he has played his "literary hero," port-loving raconteur Sir John Falstaff, in three productions.
Bloom is married to Jeanne, a retired school psychologist whom he met while a junior faculty member at Yale in the 1950s. They have two sons.
Series Introduction ix
Introduction Harold Bloom xi
Mary Russell Mitford (1815) 5
Henry Austen "Biographical Notice of the Author" (1818) 5
Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges (1834) 11
James Edward Austen-Leigh (1870) 11
William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh (1913) 14
Archbishop Whately "Modern Novels" (1821) 21
Sir Walter Scott (1822) 25
Unsigned "Mrs. Gores Women as They Are-or The Manners of the Day" (1830) 25
Frances Ann Kemble (1831) 27
Maria Jane Jewsbury "Literary Women, no. II: Jane Austen" (1831) 27
Sara Coleridge "Letter to Emily Trevenen" (1834) 32
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1839) 32
George Henry Lewes "Recent Novels: French and English" (1847) 33
Charlotte Bronte (1848) 33
George Eliot "The Progress of Fiction As an Art" (1853) 34
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1855) 35
George Henry Lewes "The Novels of Jane Austen" (1859) 35
David Masson (1859) 45
Thomas Babington Macaulay "Madame D'Arblay(1860) 46
G.F. Chorley "Miss Austen and Miss Mitford" (1870) 47
T.E. Kebbel "Jane Austen" (1870) 50
Edward FitzGerald (1870) 53
John W. Hales (1873) 54
George William Curtis "Editor's Easy Chair" (1881) 54
Henry Morley (1881) 55
George Barnett Smith "More Views of Jane Austen" (1885) 55
Andrew Lang "Letter to Jane Austen" (1886) 57
Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1887) 60
James Ashcroft Noble (1889) 62
Goldwin Smith (1890) 62
W.B. Shubrick Clymer "A Note on Jane Austen" (1891) 66
William Dean Howells (1891) 79
Walter Raleigh "Jane Austen" (1894) 79
George Saintsbury (1896) 83
Edmund Gosse (1897) 85
Vida D. Scudder (1898) 86
Janet Harper "The Renascence of Jane Austen" (1900) 87
Earl of Iddesleigh "A Chat about Jane Austen's Novels" (1900) 87
William Dean Howells "Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennet" (1901) 94
Pride and Prejudice 103
Unsigned (1813) 103
Mary Russell Mitford (1814) 104
Henry Crabb Robinson (1819) 104
Sir Walter Scott (1826) 105
Charlotte Bronte (1848) 105
W.F. Pollock "British Novelists" (1860) 106
James Oliphant "Scott and Jane Austen" (1899) 108
Francis Hovey Stoddard "Growth of Personality in Fiction" (1900) 111
William Dean Howells "Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennet" (1901) 114
William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh "Pride and Prejudice" (1913) 118
Sense and Sensibility 119
Henry Crabb Robinson (1839) 119
W.F. Pollock "British Novelists" (1860) 119
Julia Kavanagh "Miss Austen's Six Novels" (1863) 124
William Dean Howells "Three of Jane Austen's Heroines" (1901) 125
Sir Walter Scott "Emma" (1815) 128
William C. Macready (1834) 134
Charlotte Bronte (1850) 135
W.F. Pollock "British Novelists" (1860) 136
Anthony Trollope "Emma" (1865) 137
Margaret Oliphant (1882) 139
William Dean Howells "Three of Jane Austen's Heroines" (1901) 141
William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh "Emma" (1913) 144
William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh "Opinions of Emma" (1913) 145
Mansfield Park 148
William C. Macready (1836) 148
W.F. Pollock "British Novelists" (1860) 149
Adolphus Alfred Jack "Miss Austen" (1897) 149
Hiram M. Stanley "Mansfield Park" (1897) 151
William Dean Howells "Three of Jane Austen's Heroines" (1901) 155
William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh "Mansfield Park" (1913) 157
William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh "Opinions of Mansfield Park" (1913) 159
Northanger Abbey 159
Anonymous "Northanger Abbey and Persuasion" (1818) 159
Henry Crabb Robinson (1842) 164
Thomas Babington Macaulay "Journal" (1876) 165
Margaret Oliphant (1882) 166
William Dean Howells "Anne Eliot and Catherine Morland" (1901) 167
Maria Edgeworth (1818) 170
W.F. Pollock "British Novelists" (1860) 171
Sir Francis Hastings Doyle (1886) 171
William Dean Howells "Anne Eliot and Catherine Morland" (1901) 174
William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh "Persuasion" (1913) 179