The Romance of Interpretation: Visionary Criticism from Pater to de Man

By Daniel T. O'Hara | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
THE GENIUS OF IRONY: NIETZSCHE IN BLOOM

Nietzsche until he went mad, did not confuse himself with his own Zarathustra.

Bloom, Poetry and Repression

A poet writes always of his personal life, in his finest work out of its tragedy, whatever it be, remorse, lost love, or mere loneliness; he never speaks directly as to someone . . . there is always a phantasmagoria. . . . He is never the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast; he has been reborn as an idea, something intended, complete.

Yeats, "A General Introduction For My Work"

HAROLD BLOOM has been a controversial figure in American critical circles ever since the publication in 1959 of his first book, Shelley's Mythmaking. It set itself squarely against the ruling critical orthodoxies of the time (New Criticism and Aristotelian neo-humanism) by challenging the common view, derived from Arnold, that Shelley was "an ineffectual angel" beating golden wings vainly in a void of idealistic abstraction. Bloom argued that Shelley was instead more of a self-conscious visionary craftsman in the manner of Northrop Frye's Blake. No matter what the dominant opinion has been, one can count on Bloom to oppose it. Consider the first and still most original of his theoretical utterances, The Anxiety of Influence ( 1973). Just when his Yale colleagues ( de Man, Hartman, and Miller) were adapting Derridean deconstruction and Lacanian psychoanalysis to the interpretation of literary texts within an American context; and his former mentors ( M. H. Abrams and Walter Jackson Bate) were defending the conventional methods and values of literary

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