The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages

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Riverhead Books, 1994 - Literary Criticism - 546 pages
11 Reviews
Harold Bloom explores our Western literary tradition by concentrating on the works of twenty-six authors central to the Canon. He argues against ideology in literary criticism; he laments the loss of intellectual and aesthetic standards; he deplores multiculturalism, Marxism, feminism, neoconservatism, Afrocentrism, and the New Historicism. Insisting instead upon "the autonomy of the aesthetic, " Bloom places Shakespeare at the center of the Western Canon. Shakespeare has become the touchstone for all writers who come before and after him, whether playwrights poets or storytellers. In the creation of character, Bloom maintains, Shakespeare has no true precursor and has left no one after him untouched. Milton, Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Ibsen, Joyce, and Beckett were all indebted to him; Tolstoy and Freud rebelled against him; and Dante, Wordsworth, Austen, Dickens, Whitman, Dickinson, Proust, the modern Hispanic and Portuguese writers Borges, Neruda, and Pessoa are exquisite examples of how canonical writing is born of an originality fused with tradition. Bloom concludes this provocative, trenchant work with a complete list of essential writers and books - his vision of the Canon.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - delta351 - LibraryThing

Overall it is very easy to hate on Harold Bloom, but he really knows his lit. I think he has some very well thought out ideas on the Canon. IMO he is the final authority. He has obviously read all of ... Read full review

THE WESTERN CANON: The Books and School of the Ages

User Review  - Kirkus

One of our biggest critical gun fires a characteristically Olympian broadside into the canon debate, no quarter spared for the politically correct. In measures carefully calculated to raise the ... Read full review

Contents

AN ELEGY FOR THE CANON
15
THE ARISTOCRATIC AGE
41
SHAKESPEARE CENTER OF THE CANON
43
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

Harold Bloom is a Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. As The Paris Review has pointed out, "no critic in the English language since Samuel Johnson has been more prolific." His more than thirty books include The Best Poems of the English Language, The Art of Reading Poetry, and The Book of J. He is a MacArthur Prize Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, including the Academy's Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism, the International Prize of Catalonia, and the Alfonso Reyes Prize of Mexico.

Alfred Kazin has said, "Bloom is all literature, (he) positively lives it," and The New York Times called him "the most original literary critic in America." He lives in New Haven and New York.

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