Sylvia Plath's short life and intense poetry draw much attention. Her suicide and tumultuous marriage to Ted Hughes as well as his choices in post-humously publishing her work (and not publishing other parts of it) add to the mystery of Plath's life, as does the fact that yet other work of hers was published after his death. Within this volume, critics comment on Plath's life and work, often arguing that her poems do not show a young woman headed toward suicide but instead show a vibrant, intelligent woman in ...
Sylvia Plath's short life and intense poetry draw much attention. Her suicide and tumultuous marriage to Ted Hughes as well as his choices in post-humously publishing her work (and not publishing other parts of it) add to the mystery of Plath's life, as does the fact that yet other work of hers was published after his death. Within this volume, critics comment on Plath's life and work, often arguing that her poems do not show a young woman headed toward suicide but instead show a vibrant, intelligent woman in love with life and becoming more at ease with her work.
Gr 10 Up-In each of these volumes, five poems are represented in critical essays by literary analysts both past and contemporary. Robert Browning highlights "My Last Duchess," "Fra Lippo Lippi," "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," "Andrea del Sarto," and "Caliban Upon Setebos." Sylvia Plath features "The Colossus," "The Arrival of the Bee Box," "Daddy," "Ariel," and "Lady Lazarus." The main texts are prefaced by brief but informative biographies of the poets and conclude with bibliographies of works by and about them as well as indexes of important themes and ideas from the poems. Each volume is divided into sections, one for each poem, and each section begins with Bloom's thematic analysis of the work. This information, given in a straightforward style, will be helpful to students. Because the essays are written by scholars, however, the language is often dense and hard to grasp for all but the most advanced high-school literature students. With their academic approach and language, these research and study guides would be best used in school libraries that support intensive literary research on the precollege or Advanced Placement level.-Toni D. Moore, Simon Kenton High School, Independence, KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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.
Editor's Note vii
Introduction Harold Bloom 1
Sylvia Plath and the Poetry of Confession Bruce Bawer 7
"Daddy" Jacqueline Rose 21
The Poems of 1957 Nancy D. Hargrove 59
A Long Hiss of Distress: Plath's Elegy on the Beach at Berck Sandra M. Gilbert 91
Transitional Poetry Caroline King Barnard Hall 99
Gothic Subjectivity Christina Britzolakis 115
From the Bottom of the Pool: Sylvia Plath's Last Poems Tim Kendall 147
Prosopopoeia and Holocaust Poetry in English: Sylvia Plath and Her Contemporaries Susan Gubar 165
Plath's Triumphant Women Poems Linda Wagner-Martin 193
Poetry and Survival Susan Bassnett 207