Harold Bloom quotes

  • Everyone wants a prodigy to fail; it makes our mediocrity more bearable.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Mediocrity #Want #Failing

  • We read, frequently if not unknowingly, in search of a mind more original than our own.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Mind

  • It is hard to go on living without some hope of encountering the extraordinary.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Goes On #Extraordinary

  • What is literary tradition? What is a classic? What is a canonical view of tradition? How are canons of accepted classics formed,and how are they unformed? I think that all these quite traditional questions can take one simplistic but still dialectical question as their summing up: do we choose tradition or does it choose us, and why is it necessary that a choosing take place, or a being chosen? What happens if one tries to write, or to teach, or to think, or even to read without the sense of a tradition? Why, nothing at all happens, just nothing.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Writing #Thinking #Trying

  • A superb and dreadfully moving account of the glory and subsequent murder by the Romanians of the Jewish city in Odessa. . . . Odessa is both celebration and lament and equally impressive as both.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Moving #Cities #Odessa

  • Rebecca Mead's My Life in Middlemarch is a wise, humane, and delightful study of what some regard as the best novel in English. Mead has discovered an original and highly personal way to make herself an inhabitant both of the book and of George Eliot's imaginary city. Though I have read and taught the book these many years I find myself desiring to go back to it after reading Rebecca Mead's work.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Wise #Book #Reading

  • I have read all of Daniel Aaron's books, and admired them, but in The Americanist I believe he has composed an intellectual and social memoir for which he will be remembered. His self-portrait is marked by personal tact and admirable restraint: he is and is not its subject. The Americanist is a vision of otherness: literary and academic friends and acquaintances, here and abroad. Eloquently phrased and free of nostalgia, it catches a lost world that yet engendered much of our own.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Believe #Book #Self

  • If we read the Western Canon in order to form our social, political, or personal moral values, I firmly believe we will become monsters of selfishness and exploitation.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Believe #Order #Political

  • The world gets older, without getting either better or worse and so does literature. But I do think that the drab current phenomenon that passes for literary studies in the university will finally provide its own corrective.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Thinking #Doe #Literature

  • To read in the service of any ideology is not, in my judgment, to read at all,
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Judgment #Ideology

  • Literature is achieved anxiety.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Anxiety #Literature

  • You know, I don't want to be offensive. But 'Infinite Jest' [regarded by many as Wallace's masterpiece] is just awful. It seems ridiculous to have to say it. He can't think, he can't write. There's no discernible talent.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Writing #Thinking #Want

  • No one yet has managed to be post-Shakespearean.
    -- Harold Bloom

  • One measures oncoming old age by its deepening of Proust, and its deepening by Proust. How to read a novel? Lovingly, if it shows itself capable of accomodating one's love; and jealously, because it can become the image of one's limitations in time and space, and yet can give the Proustian blessing of more life.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Love #Blessing #Space

  • The second, and I think this is the much more overt and I think it is the main cause, I have been increasingly demonstrating or trying to demonstrate that every possible stance a critic, a scholar, a teacher can take towards a poem is itself inevitably and necessarily poetic.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Teacher #Thinking #Trying

  • I won't say he [Shakespeare] 'invented' us, because journalists perpetually misunderstand me on that. I'll put it more simply: he contains us. Our ways of thinking and feeling-about ourselves, those we love, those we hate, those we realize are hopelessly 'other' to us-are more shaped by Shakespeare than they are by the experience of our own lives.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Hate #Thinking #Feelings

  • Not a moment passes these days without fresh rushes of academic lemmings off the cliffs they proclaim the political responsibilities of the critic, but eventually all this moralizing will subside.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Responsibility #Political #Cliffs

  • The idea of Herman Melville in a writing class is always distressing to me.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Writing #Class #Ideas

  • Reading well makes children more interesting both to themselves and others, a process in which they will develop a sense of being separate and distinct selves.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Children #Book #Reading

  • Dark influences from the American past congregate among us still. If we are a democracy, what are we to make of the palpable elements of plutocracy, oligarchy, and mounting theocracy that rule our state? How do we address the self-inflicted catastrophes that devastated our natural environment? So large is our malaise that no single writer can encompass it. We have no Emerson or Whitman among us. An institutionalized counterculture condemns individuality as archaic and depreciates intellectual values, even in the universities. (The Anatomy of Influence)
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Dark #Past #Self

  • I realized early on that the academy and the literary world alike
    -- Harold Bloom

    #World #I Realized #Academy

  • People cannot stand the saddest truth I know about the very nature of reading and writing imaginative literature, which is that poetry does not teach us how to talk to other people: it teaches us how to talk to ourselves. What I
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Reading #Writing #People

  • No poem, not even Shakespeare or Milton or Chaucer, is ever strong enough to totally exclude every crucial precursor text or poem.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Strong #Enough #Milton

  • We possess the Canon because we are mortal and also rather belated. There is only so much time, and time must have a stop, while there is more to read than there ever was before. From the Yahwist and Homer to Freud, Kafka, and Beckett is a journey of nearly three millennia. Since that voyage goes past harbors as infinite as Dante, Chaucer, Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy, all of whom amply compensate a lifetime's rereadings, we are in the pragmatic dilemma of excluding something else each time we read or reread extensively.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Past #Journey #Voyages

  • The true use of Shakespeare or of Cervantes, of Homer or of Dante, of Chaucer or of Rabelais, is to augment one's own growing inner self. . . . The mind's dialogue with itself is not primarily a social reality. All that the Western Canon can bring one is the proper use of one's own solitude, that solitude whose final form is one's confrontation with one's own mortality.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Education #Reality #Self

  • Hamlet, Kiekegaard, Kafka are ironists in the wake of Jesus. All Western irony is a repetition of Jesus' enigmas/riddles, in amalgam with the ironies of Socrates.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Jesus #Irony #Repetition

  • The most beautiful prose paragraph yet written by any American.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Beautiful #Paragraph #Prose

  • There is a God, and his name is Aristophanes.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Names

  • I realized early on that the academy and the literary world alike - and I don't think there really is a distinction between the two - are always dominated by fools, knaves, charlatans and bureaucrats. And that being the case, any human being, male or female, of whatever status, who has a voice of her or his own, is not going to be liked.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Thinking #Two #Voice

  • It is by extending oneself, by exercising some capacity previously unused that you come to a better knowledge of your own potential.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Exercise #Self #Capacity

  • The world does not get to be a better or a worse place; it just gets more senescent.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Doe #World

  • Sometimes one succeeds, sometimes one fails.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Succeed #Sometimes #Failing

  • Shakespeare will not make us better, and he will not make us worse, but he may teach us how to overhear ourselves when we talk to ourselves... he may teach us how to accept change in ourselves as in others, and perhaps even the final form of change.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Finals #May #Accepting

  • Shakespeare is universal.
    -- Harold Bloom

  • Indeed the three prophecies about the death of individual art are, in their different ways, those of Hegel, Marx, and Freud. I don't see any way of getting beyond those prophecies.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Art #Different #Three

  • We read not only because we cannot know enough people, but because friendship is so vulnerable, so likely to diminish or disappear, overcome by space, time, imperfect sympathies, and all the sorrows of familial and passional life.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Space #People #Sorrow

  • What I think I have in common with the school of deconstruction is the mode of negative thinking or negative awareness, in the technical, philosophical sense of the negative, but which comes to me through negative theology.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Philosophical #School #Thinking

  • Reading the very best writers—let us say Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Tolstoy—is not going to make us better citizens. Art is perfectly useless, according to the sublime Oscar Wilde, who was right about everything. He also told us that all bad poetry is sincere. Had I the power to do so, I would command that these words be engraved above every gate at every university, so that each student might ponder the splendor of the insight.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Art #Reading #Sublime

  • There is no method except yourself.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Crafts #Method

  • All that a critic, as critic, can give poets is the deadly encouragement that never ceases to remind them of how heavy their inheritance is.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Encouragement #Giving #Inheritance

  • Criticism in the universities, I'll have to admit, has entered a phase where I am totally out of sympathy with 95% of what goes on. It's Stalinism without Stalin.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Sympathy #Criticism #Goes On

  • We all fear loneliness, madness, dying. Shakespeare and Walt Whitman, Leopardi and Hart Crane will not cure those fears. And yet these poets bring us fire and light.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Loneliness #Fire #Light

  • I am naive enough to read incessantly because I cannot, on my own, get to know enough people profoundly enough.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #People #Enough #Incessantly

  • Reading well is one of the greatest pleasures that solitude can afford you.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Reading #Solitude #Pleasure

  • How to read "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Potters #Stones #Ends

  • What matters in literature in the end is surely the idiosyncratic, the individual, the flavor or the color of a particular human suffering.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Hygiene #What Matters #Color

  • The art and passion of reading well and deeply is waning, but [Jane] Austen still inspires people to become fanatical readers.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Art #Reading #Passion

  • I am not unique in my elegiac sadness at watching reading die, in the era that celebrates Stephen King and J.K. Rowling rather than Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Kings #Reading #Sadness

  • ... one doesn't want to read badly any more than live badly, since time will not relent. I don't know that we owe God or nature a death, but nature will collect anyway, and we certainly owe mediocrity nothing, whatever collectivity it purports to advance or at least represent.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Mediocrity #Want #Collectivity

  • We read to find ourselves, more fully and more strangely than otherwise we could hope to find.
    -- Harold Bloom

  • We read deeply for varied reasons, most of them familiar: that we cannot know enough people profoundly enough; that we need to know ourselves better; that we require knowledge, not just of self and others, but of the way things are. Yet the strongest, most authentic motive for deep reading…is the search for a difficult pleasure.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Reading #Knowledge #Self

  • Real reading is a lonely activity.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Lonely #Real #Reading

  • Aesthetic value emanates from the struggle between texts: in the reader, in language, in the classroom, in arguments within a society. Aesthetic value rises out of memory, and so (as Nietzsche saw) out of pain, the pain of surrendering easier pleasures in favour of much more difficult ones ... successful literary works are achieved anxieties, not releases from anxieties.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Pain #Memories #Struggle

  • Socrates, in Plato, formulates ideas of order: the Iliad, like Shakespeare, knows that a violent disorder is a great order.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Plato #Order #Ideas

  • I think Freud is about contamination, but I think that is something he learned from Shakespeare, because Shakespeare is about nothing but contamination, you might say.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Thinking #Might #Contamination

  • Information is endlessly available to us; where shall wisdom be found?
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Information #Found

  • In fact, it is Shakespeare who gives us the map of the mind. It is Shakespeare who invents Freudian Psychology. Freud finds ways of translating it into supposedly analytical vocabulary.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Vocabulary #Giving #Psychology

  • I have never believed that the critic is the rival of the poet, but I do believe that criticism is a genre of literature or it does not exist.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Believe #Criticism #Rivals

  • I would say that there is no future for literary studies as such in the United States.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #United States #Study #States

  • I take it that a successful therapy is an oxymoron.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Successful #Oxymoron #Therapy

  • What is supposed to be the very essence of Judaism - which is the notion that it is by study that you make yourself a holy people - is nowhere present in Hebrew tradition before the end of the first or the beginning of the second century of the Common Era.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Essence #People #Eras

  • I don't believe in myths of decline or myths of progress, even as regards the literary scene.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Believe #Progress #Scene

  • Criticism starts - it has to start - with a real passion for reading. It can come in adolescence, even in your twenties, but you must fall in love with poems.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Falling In Love #Real #Reading

  • But in the end, in the end one is alone. We are all of us alone. I mean I'm told these days we have to consider ourselves as being in society... but in the end one knows one is alone, that one lives at the heart of a solitude.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Heart #Mean #Solitude

  • Read deeply, not to believe, not to accept, not to contradict, but to learn to share in that one nature that writes and reads.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Believe #Writing #Share

  • At our present bad moment, we need above all to recover our sense of literary individuality and of poetic autonomy.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Individuality #Needs #Poetic

  • I think the Greek New Testament is the strongest and most successful misreading of a great prior text in the entire history of influence.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Successful #Thinking #Greek

  • We can be reluctant to recognize how much of our culture was literary, particularly now that so many of the institutional purveyors of literature happily have joined in proclaiming its death. A substantial number of Americans who believe they worship God actually worship three major literary characters: the Yahweh of the J Writer (earliest author of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers), the Jesus of the Gospel of Mark, and Allah of the Koran.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Jesus #Believe #Character

  • More even than Southern Presbyterians and Southern Methodists, the Baptists provided the great mass of Confederate enlisted men.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Men #Southern #Religion

  • In the finest critics one hears the full cry of the human. They tell one why it matters to read.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Reading #Book #Matter

  • Shakespeare is the true multicultural author. He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere. Everyone feels that they are represented by him on the stage.
    -- Harold Bloom

    #Language #Stage #Multicultural