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Ruin The Sacred Truths / Edition 1

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Overview


Bloom surveys with majestic view the literature of the West from the Old Testament to Samuel Beckett. He provocatively rereads the Yahwist or J writer, Jeremiah, Job, Jonah, the Iliad, the Aeneid, Dante's Divine Comedy, Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, the Henry IV plays, Paradise Lost, Blake's Milton, Wordsworth's Prelude, and works by Freud, Kafka, and Beckett. In so doing, he uncovers the truth that all our attempts to call any strong work more sacred than another are merely political and social formulations. This is criticism at its best.
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Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe

In some ways the wildest of the wild men and women, in some ways the most traditional of the traditionalists, Harold Bloom remains serene amid the turbulence—much of it caused by him. He stands dauntless, a party of one, as thrilling to behold up on the high wire as he is at times throttling to read on the page...From this strong critic dealing with these strong poets comes a potent mix of insight.
— Mark Feeney

Washington Times

The wit, the eclecticism and the gripping paradoxes...the force of [Bloom's] intellect carries the reader from pinnacle to pinnacle, showing a new spiritual landscape from each.
— Roger Scruton

New York Review of Books

Bloom's puissance is not entirely his own; for some of it, he is indebted to Nietzsche, Freud, Schopenhauer, Gershom Scholem, and other masters. But enough of it is his own to constitute a distinctive form of splendor.
— Denis Donoghue

New York Review of Books - Denis Donoghue
Bloom's puissance is not entirely his own; for some of it, he is indebted to Nietzsche, Freud, Schopenhauer, Gershom Scholem, and other masters. But enough of it is his own to constitute a distinctive form of splendor.
Washington Times - Roger Scruton
The wit, the eclecticism and the gripping paradoxes...the force of [Bloom's] intellect carries the reader from pinnacle to pinnacle, showing a new spiritual landscape from each.
Boston Globe - Mark Feeney
In some ways the wildest of the wild men (and women), in some ways the most traditional of the traditionalists, Harold Bloom remains serene amid the turbulence--much of it caused by him. He stands dauntless, a party of one, as thrilling to behold up on the high wire as he is (at times) throttling to read on the page...From this strong critic dealing with these strong poets comes a potent mix of insight.
Boston Globe
In some ways the wildest of the wild men (and women), in some ways the most traditional of the traditionalists, Harold Bloom remains serene amid the turbulence--much of it caused by him. He stands dauntless, a party of one, as thrilling to behold up on the high wire as he is (at times) throttling to read on the page...From this strong critic dealing with these strong poets comes a potent mix of insight.
— Mark Feeney
Washington Times
The wit, the eclecticism and the gripping paradoxes...the force of [Bloom's] intellect carries the reader from pinnacle to pinnacle, showing a new spiritual landscape from each.
— Roger Scruton
New York Review of Books
Bloom's puissance is not entirely his own; for some of it, he is indebted to Nietzsche, Freud, Schopenhauer, Gershom Scholem, and other masters. But enough of it is his own to constitute a distinctive form of splendor.
— Denis Donoghue
Library Journal
Taking Oscar Wilde's premise that criticism is ``the only civilized form of autobiography,'' Bloom uses the 1987-88 Norton Lectures to present his personal encounter with Western authors from the author of the Hebrew Bible to Freud and Beckett. Specifically, Bloom considers the poet's struggle with the boundaries of meaning and truth to represent God. He denies, however, that poetry can represent belief. It is instead, he argues, an attempt to represent the unrepresentablethat is, the sublime. The discussion also reexamines Bloom's earlier preoccupation with influence as well as favorite authors such as Blake and Stevens. The result is often provoking, but always stimulating. T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, Ga.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674780286
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1991
  • Series: Charles Eliot Norton Lectures Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 218
  • Sales rank: 1,079,436
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
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.

Biography

"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.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Harold Irving Bloom (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York and New Haven, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 11, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cornell University, 1951; Ph.D., Yale University, 1955

Table of Contents

1. The Hebrew Bible

2. From Homer to Dante

3. Shakespeare

4. Milton

5. Enlightenment and Romanticism

6. Freud and Beyond

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