From the Bible to Ralph Ellison, America's most prominent and bestselling literary critic takes an enlightening look at the concept of genius through the ages in a celebration of the greatest creative writers of all time. 50 photos.
In addition, the title is also misleading in the sense that Bloom actually means, "Literary Creative Minds." Nowhere does he talk about Michaelangelo, DaVinci, Monet, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Schubert, Rachmaninoff etc etc etc. He also ignores two very creative literary figures; Dr. Suess and Vladimir Nabokov, two authors whose genius cannot be contested.
It might be taken as arrogance that Bloom has only focused on literary genius, or what he takes to be genius. The implication is that writers, poets and philosophers have sole claim to the title "Genius." Actually, this is just the limitations of Bloom's training as an English Professor, as well as a product of his horrifically inventive and capable mind. Wouldn't one be biased towards literatures if they had spent their whole lives teaching and researching just that?
This book is also produced on the assumption that the author knows exactly what makes a genius a genius. Although when one reads the book, the impression is that Bloom is far more fascinated with the works of the subject rather than the figures themselves, but this is what he does. So if you're searching for very incisive criticism on the lives of some very prominent people in the written history, delve in. If you're a student of music, art or even mathematics, this book is not about you. Bloom caters to the exclusive group of literateurs.
This is precisely what Bloom wants though, exclusivity.Read more ›
There is some humor and insight but for every insight we get thirty pages of unexplained marginalia like the following: "Negation of seeming realities in an ostensibly Christian society is the essence of Kierkegaard's genius, but this was an anxiety for him, since Kierkegaard had to be post-Hegelian, even as we have to be post-Freudian." This might make a great thesis statement for a long article (or even a book) but Bloom tosses it off like it is a self-evident truth that needs no further elaboration. I suspect it meant something interesting to Bloom, but it is lost on those mortals among us who cannot read his mind (and he complains about the obfuscation of the French!)
I guess if you are as well-established and respected as Harold Bloom then you no longer need to write books, you can merely publish them.
Which authors have genius? Shakespeare, obviously, and all the classical poets whose works have survived for a number of centuries, and Bloom's personal hero of literary criticism, Samuel Johnson, and even T.S. Eliot, towards whom Bloom displays a dichotomous attitude of admiration mixed with hostility. What evidence of genius is offered that elevates these authors above the merely talented? For Renaissance historian and prose stylist extraordinaire Walter Pater, it is his "secularization of the religious epiphany"; for Balzac, it is his mercurial comic criminal Vautrin; for Robert Browning, it is his perfected development of the dramatic monologue.Read more ›
With this book Harold Bloom reaffirms the place he has already staked out for himself, as the most bold and ambitious literary critic of our time. He does this by surveying world literature and selecting from it the one - hundred supreme literary geniuses, and in five or six pages for each discussing what defines the unique genius if each one.Each chapter has a short frontispiece in which he says something more general about the life and work of the individual creator, and a larger section in which he reads and interprets a selected piece of writing of the particular genius. His analysis and his own writing sparkle with aphoristic brilliance,with deep and broad knowledge, and with a rare capacity to make remarkable new connections between literary figures and worlds. Above all, the book is pervaded by his love of reading, his love of great imaginative literature.And the whole work is testament to and evidence of his total enthusiasm about and dedication to this world
Frequently in the work he mentions with a degree of modesty which would make Faustus proud, his knowing by heart vast sections of a particular literary masterpiece. This recalling time and again his own memorizing of particular works, is only one of the many obsessions which play such a large part in the work.Bloom does not remind repeating himself, tells us over and over again that he is seventy - one, that to his regret he has lived to see the university world taken over by the politically correct. He rails against those curricula which select writers on basis of ethnic belonging, gender, race.