Bloom, Harold

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Bloom, Harold

Harold Bloom, 1930–, American literary critic and scholar, b. New York City. The son of Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Russia, educated at Cornell (B.A., 1951) and Yale (Ph.D., 1955), the distinguished critic, author, and academic is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale and Berg Professor of English at New York Univ. He has written nearly 40 books and edited or written the introductions for hundreds of other volumes. One of his best-known works, The Anxiety of Influence (1973), postulates a titanic Oedipal struggle in which great writers interpret and revolt against their literary fathers, a theme developed in A Map of Misreading (1974), Poetry and Repression (1976), and Agon (1982).

Bloom has also written studies of many individual authors, e.g., Shelley (1959), Blake (1963), Yeats (1970), Wallace Stevens (1977), and Shakespeare (1998). His wide-ranging literary concerns are represented in The Western Canon (1994), in which Bloom analyzes the works of 26 great masters; in How to Read and Why (2000), in which he presents a manual for literary enjoyment and enlightenment; in Genius (2002), in which he explores the accomplishments of 100 great writers; and in Till I End My Song (2010), in which he gathers and briefly analyzes 100 poems about the end of life. His interest in religious and scriptural questions is apparent in such works as Ruin the Sacred Truths (1988), The Book of J (1990), in which he posits that a woman wrote part of the biblical Pentateuch, The American Religion (1992), and Jesus and Yahweh (2005). The Anatomy of Influence (2011) sums up his ideas and reworks the theories of literary influence he first posited in The Anxiety of Influence.

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