How should we read? Slowly, with love, openness, and with our inner ear cocked. Then we should reread, reread, reread, and do so aloud as often as possible. "As a boy of eight," he tells us, "I would walk about chanting Housman's and William Blake's lyrics to myself, and I still do, less frequently yet with undiminished fervor." And why should we engage in this apparently solitary activity? To increase our wit and imagination, our sense of intimacy--in short, our entire consciousness--and also to heal our pain. "Until you become yourself," Bloom avers, "what benefit can you be to others." So much for reading as an escape from the self!
Still, many of this volume's pleasures may indeed be selfish. The author is at his best when he is thinking aloud and anew, and his material offers him--and therefore us--endless opportunities for discovery. Bloom cherishes poetry because it is "a prophetic mode" and fiction for its wisdom. Intriguingly, he fears more for the fate of the latter: "Novels require more readers than poems do, a statement so odd that it puzzles me, even as I agree with it." We must, he adjures, crusade against its possible extinction and read novels "in the coming years of the third millennium, as they were read in the eighteenth and nineteenth century: for aesthetic pleasure and for spiritual insight."
Bloom is never heavy, since his vision quest contains a healthy love of irony--Jedediah Purdy, take note: "Strip irony away from reading, and it loses at once all discipline and all surprise." And this supreme critic makes us want to equal his reading prowess because he writes as well as he reads; his epigrams are equal to his opinions. He is also a master allusionist and quoter. His section on Hedda Gabler is preceded by three extraordinary statements, two from Ibsen, who insists, "There must be a troll in what I write." Who would not want to proceed? Of course, Bloom can also accomplish his goal by sheer obstinacy. As far as he is concerned, Don Quixote may have been the first novel but it remains to this day the best one. Is he perhaps tweaking us into reading this gigantic masterwork by such bald overstatement? Bloom knows full well that a prophet should stop at nothing to get his belief and love across, and throughout How to Read and Why he is as unstinting as the visionary company he adores. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Because these things exist and continue existing in our minds, what other justification do you want? They lift up our imaginations and the imaginations of the artists. Read morePublished on July 14 2004 by A. Fondacaro
Other reveiwers have pointed out the inaccuracy of the title, and I state my agreement with their judgement. Read morePublished on May 30 2004 by Megan Lambert
I love book talk. This is an interesting title for a book. We know Bloom has read a lot of books because he has written so many. Read morePublished on Oct. 24 2003 by Mary E. Sibley
Most bibliophiles will pick up this exegesis from the renowned literary critic, Harold Bloom, simply on the inherent challenge in the title. Read morePublished on Sept. 1 2003 by ilmk
In this poignant and beautiful book, Harold Bloom tries to drive home the lesson that we must read to become individuals. Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2003 by Inna Tysoe
Distinguished literary scholar Harold Bloom writes of the joy of reading, which he perceives as a deeper, wider way of understanding, not limited as is our own experience, or our... Read morePublished on July 8 2003 by Karen Sampson Hudson
Professor Bloom is sometimes pooh-poohed for his support of the Western Canon, but for those not immersed in the humanities, the book is likely to be a signpost to a deeper... Read morePublished on June 5 2003 by James Igoe
This is the last time I buy one of Bloom's new books in hardcover. The slim volume is attractively packaged but it wasn't worth the price. Read morePublished on May 1 2003