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Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence has cast its long shadow of influence since it was first published in 1973. Through an insightful study of Romantic poets, Bloom puts forth his central vision of the relations between precursors and the individual artist. His argument that all literary texts are a strong misreading of those that precede them had an enormous impact on Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence has cast its long shadow of influence since it was first published in 1973. Through an insightful study of Romantic poets, Bloom puts forth his central vision of the relations between precursors and the individual artist. His argument that all literary texts are a strong misreading of those that precede them had an enormous impact on the practice of criticism and post-structuralist literary theory. The book remains a central work of criticism for all students of literature. Written in a moving personal style, anchored by concrete examples, and memorable quotations, this second edition of Bloom's classic work maintains that the anxiety of influence cannot be evaded - neither by poets nor by responsible readers and critics. A new introduction, centering upon Shakespeare and Marlowe explains the genesis of Bloom's thinking, and the subsequent influence of the book on literary criticism of the past quarter of a century.


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Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence has cast its long shadow of influence since it was first published in 1973. Through an insightful study of Romantic poets, Bloom puts forth his central vision of the relations between precursors and the individual artist. His argument that all literary texts are a strong misreading of those that precede them had an enormous impact on Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence has cast its long shadow of influence since it was first published in 1973. Through an insightful study of Romantic poets, Bloom puts forth his central vision of the relations between precursors and the individual artist. His argument that all literary texts are a strong misreading of those that precede them had an enormous impact on the practice of criticism and post-structuralist literary theory. The book remains a central work of criticism for all students of literature. Written in a moving personal style, anchored by concrete examples, and memorable quotations, this second edition of Bloom's classic work maintains that the anxiety of influence cannot be evaded - neither by poets nor by responsible readers and critics. A new introduction, centering upon Shakespeare and Marlowe explains the genesis of Bloom's thinking, and the subsequent influence of the book on literary criticism of the past quarter of a century.

30 review for The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cymru Roberts

    Harold Bloom is an easy guy to dislike, and even easier to make fun of. Watching his interviews has become somewhat of a hobby of mine, and in them he often seems sullen and dismissive. He’s a portly bloke with bushy eyebrows and a weird accent from teaching himself English at the age of six. He also has a tendency to say that your favorite author or favorite book is utter garbage, and that really seems to piss people off, as if no one should ever have their taste challenged or have to formulate Harold Bloom is an easy guy to dislike, and even easier to make fun of. Watching his interviews has become somewhat of a hobby of mine, and in them he often seems sullen and dismissive. He’s a portly bloke with bushy eyebrows and a weird accent from teaching himself English at the age of six. He also has a tendency to say that your favorite author or favorite book is utter garbage, and that really seems to piss people off, as if no one should ever have their taste challenged or have to formulate even to themselves why it is they like something. I try not to focus on what he says he doesn’t like. It took me a while to come around though; he has said numerous times that Blood Meridian is Cormac’s only good book, causing me to be like “WTF?!” He’s notoriously bashed Steven King and JK Rowling. And he said of David Foster Wallace, “He can’t think. He can’t write. He has no discernable talent.” Ouch. Postmodern scholars everywhere found a new champion of their Hate when that interview was published. Nevermind that what he says about these authors is pretty much true, especially if you look at the work without emotion (hard to do and kind of antithetical to the reading process I know). The thing about Bloom is however, he has read so much (he claims to have once been able to read 1,000 pages an hour and remember everything, and I believe him) that his tolerance for clunky dialogue and cute epiphanies is less than zero. People tend to only see him for his negative comments – which is a dire shame because he speaks much more about the things he likes – so that he has become the caricature of The Old White Man. He’s actually Jewish… and he is one of the most outspoken critics of what most people don’t even realize is “Academia” today. The most important thing I’ll take from The Anxiety of Influence is that Bloom has moved beyond reading literature in the framework of personal taste. He has a good quote about poems being like baseball teams, some like this one, others like that one, and their isn’t really any right or wrong in what a person likes. Bloom even reads in literature beyond what the author her/himself might have claimed it to be about which is at once a most controversial statement and raises his form of criticism to the level of philosophy. Fittingly, he quotes Nietzsche frequently throughout the book, even though you can tell he doesn’t particularly like F.W. Cuz that’s not the point! He sees something true even in authors he wouldn't “like” on FB, and that is something that is almost lost on a culture that reads strictly for entertainment. So what does he say exactly? He says that a great poet is consumed with anxiety when it comes to their precursor poets/poems, because a truly great poet can’t stand the fact that someone said the same thing better and more completely before him. Thus, in order to subsume his influences, he must go through a process of deliberately misreading his precursor, dehumanizing himself, breaking down everything that made him a poet to begin with, re-finding his poetic spirit (or daemon), until eventually, maybe, he is strong enough to do battle with his long-dead great poet precursor, his primary influencer, his Great Original. In the rare instances where this occurs successfully, it is possible Bloom claims, for a dead poet to resemble a living one, as if the dead had been influenced by someone that isn’t even born yet. Wow. That is heavy, to me. This is a very quick synopsis, but it encapsulates a lot of what excites me about reading: the genealogies of influence, conversing with dead spirits, becoming friends with someone you could never ever meet. Of course it is an Anxiety, and there were parts of the book where I almost forgot why anyone should read in the first place. Reading for entertainment and escape is not a bad thing at all in my opinion. Surely all of writing can’t be some humorless battle with dead guys, where the primary goal is to best the writers you love the most and whom have given you sublime levels of comfort and reassurance. It seems counterintuitive. Bloom would argue to this point that a writer doesn’t even need to be conscious of the Anxiety of Influence; he need not even know who his precursor(s) is/are. The idea that the ego is only one, and possibly a minor, player in this whole writing thing – which at its best is really divination… well, that is admittedly controversial, but powerful nonetheless. These concepts are expounded here in a framework of Bloom’s devising that relies heavily on Freud (and I admit I have not read Freud) as well as Gnostic beliefs (of which I only have ideas), not to mention countless authors from all disciplines, eras, and styles, whom he namedrops usually without even using the full name, as if it were too obvious. Bloom is operating at the highest levels here, and why shouldn’t he? He is an American Shaman and his Spirit World is that of literature. He does cite examples along the way, but I could have used more. This I hope will be addressed in the spiritual sequels to this book, A Map of Misreading and Kabbalah and Criticism. To read beyond taste expands one’s mind. I believe it will eventually have the result of expanding one’s taste. Bloom takes this to the nth degree here and has taken heat for it since its first publication. Culture needs controversy however. We need someone to challenge our beliefs at the highest level. You don’t have to buy the philosophy, but at the very least, Bloom’s love for books and preternatural ability to read them is worthy of respect.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    Every time I reread this, I become more dissatisfied with Bloom's central thesis about the poet's necessary "misprision" in order to clear the way for creative expression. "Misreading," to me assumes a correct reading, and I've had it up to here with professorially mandated "correct" readings decades ago in college. Age and experience has convinced me that every reader's engagement with a text is "correct" for that reader, the question is the ability to convey our ideas of the text. I also believ Every time I reread this, I become more dissatisfied with Bloom's central thesis about the poet's necessary "misprision" in order to clear the way for creative expression. "Misreading," to me assumes a correct reading, and I've had it up to here with professorially mandated "correct" readings decades ago in college. Age and experience has convinced me that every reader's engagement with a text is "correct" for that reader, the question is the ability to convey our ideas of the text. I also believe that all literature is a constant conversation, so in that sense there shouldn't be an anxiety of influence at all. That aside, the prologue to the new edition, basically a love letter to Shakespeare, is sheer pleasure to read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Bloom is here an American Nietzschean ventriloquist speaking through the dummy of William Blake's corpse, a rhetorician almost as eloquent and just as evil as Milton's Satan.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anya

    Honestly i can't believe i read it, as it's laughable and borders On unreadable. Bloom is wrong when he means to be profound, occasionally profound when he doesn't seem to notice, misunderstands and has more in common with the people he disdains, and, as usual, never backs up his arguments with anything substantive. This last part is why my score low, as just spouting your opinions on flimsy evidence is decent in conversation, but infuriating in a book that's meant to be taken seriously. It gets Honestly i can't believe i read it, as it's laughable and borders On unreadable. Bloom is wrong when he means to be profound, occasionally profound when he doesn't seem to notice, misunderstands and has more in common with the people he disdains, and, as usual, never backs up his arguments with anything substantive. This last part is why my score low, as just spouting your opinions on flimsy evidence is decent in conversation, but infuriating in a book that's meant to be taken seriously. It gets two stars and not one star because in his own buffoonish way he is likeable. I've known people who have studied with him and loved him and think he's one of the smartest men they've met. No doubt they're partly right, but who cares when you write something this silly?

  5. 5 out of 5

    James

    ''All modern schools believe that metaphor, or figurative language of any kind, is founded upon a pattern of error, whether you ascribe an element of will or intentionality to it, as I do in my belief that writers creatively misunderstand one another, or whether you ascribe it, as deconstructionists do, to the nature of language. But when fallacy is universal, it doesn't seem to make much sense any more to talk about specific fallacies - affective, pathetic, intentional, or whatever. They have v ''All modern schools believe that metaphor, or figurative language of any kind, is founded upon a pattern of error, whether you ascribe an element of will or intentionality to it, as I do in my belief that writers creatively misunderstand one another, or whether you ascribe it, as deconstructionists do, to the nature of language. But when fallacy is universal, it doesn't seem to make much sense any more to talk about specific fallacies - affective, pathetic, intentional, or whatever. They have vanished in the general fog of what might be called error. As soon as you emphasize rhetoric to the point where rhetoric is a kind of quicksand, then the fallacies vanish.'' --HB And would it were with the cases of affective phallacy on this site.

  6. 4 out of 5

    aarthi

    "When he was 35, Harold Bloom fell into a deep depression, and in the midst of that depression he had a terrible nightmare that a giant winged creature was pressing down on his chest. He woke up gasping for breath, and the next day he began writing a book that would become The Anxiety of Influence, in which he argues that all great writers are obsessed with breaking away from the great writers of the past. The book made him famous, even though few people could understand it. A year after it was "When he was 35, Harold Bloom fell into a deep depression, and in the midst of that depression he had a terrible nightmare that a giant winged creature was pressing down on his chest. He woke up gasping for breath, and the next day he began writing a book that would become The Anxiety of Influence, in which he argues that all great writers are obsessed with breaking away from the great writers of the past. The book made him famous, even though few people could understand it. A year after it was published, Bloom reread it himself, and found that he couldn't understand it either." Thus far I am not understanding it either. Will keep you posted.

  7. 5 out of 5

    ماهر Battuti

    من أفضل الكتب فى النقد الأدبى ، الى جانب كتب رينيه ويليك .يتناول المشكلة الأزلية هى وجل الكاتب من أن يستبين فى كتاباته أثر كتاب آخرين تأثر بهم وذلك على الرغم من استحالة أن يكتب أحد من المؤلفين كتابا إلا بعد أن يهضم الكثير من أعمال السابقين عليه .

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mattia Ravasi

    Video-review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1Lzb... Amazingly dicky on several different levels, there is much to admire in the scope and amibitions underlying this theory of poetry. It might look old-school to the point of outdatedness, but it can still make any dedicated reader feel like they know way less then they should about the subject of their passion, which all things considered is always a great thing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brent Myers

    It works to woo the ladies.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Akylina

    Only read the first chapter, "Clinamen or poetic misprision", for a course I'm taking.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    I hate this book. Harold Bloom is an idiot.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Yağmur

    bloom is so in love with shakespeare i kid you not

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tiago Filipe Clariano

    Uma teoria da poesia não pode não ser uma teoria da vida. Afigura-se demasiado fácil remover do contexto os pontos que Bloom faz acerca de poesia e da importância da ideia de influência no seu pensamento, para um pensamento da influência na própria vida. A ansiedade da influência de Harold Bloom parece-me ser um livro terrivelmente mal interpretado actualmente. O que só prova o seu ponto principal freudiano: que a influência se faz agonisticamente. "Anxiety" foi traduzido para português para "An Uma teoria da poesia não pode não ser uma teoria da vida. Afigura-se demasiado fácil remover do contexto os pontos que Bloom faz acerca de poesia e da importância da ideia de influência no seu pensamento, para um pensamento da influência na própria vida. A ansiedade da influência de Harold Bloom parece-me ser um livro terrivelmente mal interpretado actualmente. O que só prova o seu ponto principal freudiano: que a influência se faz agonisticamente. "Anxiety" foi traduzido para português para "Angústia", apesar da proximidade fonética de 'Anxiety' para com 'ansiedade' e de 'angústia' para com 'angst'; no entanto, semanticamente, 'anxiety' não tem a violencia de 'angst', pelo que angústia é uma melhor tradução do que ansiedade (que em português se revelam ao contrário ou são, hoje em dia, usados em sentidos opostos aos que lhes associamos em inglês, como é caso de 'vulgar' e 'ordinário' e 'ordinary' e 'vulgar'). Os pontos feitos acerca deste assunto são defendidos por recurso à obra de Freud, pelo que o título não é um uso ilustrativo dos termos, no sentido em que podia ser metafórico: angústia e influência são ambos temas primordiais para a obra. Em primeiro lugar, influência aqui não serve de redução, o poema ou poeta que chegou primeiro calhou chegar primeiro por força quase histórica (à falta de melhor termo). Não obstante, a existência de predecessores faz um poeta novo colocá-los num pedestal (chame-se-lhe “cânone”, também à falta de melhor) e, ao lê-los, uma queda (clinamen) é posta em marcha. Influência, para Bloom, funciona de um modo retrógrado, não em termos da sua conceptualização, mas do seu movimento: os novos poemas actualizam ao porem em acto os sons, palavras, frases ou ideias de outros que o antecederam. Do seu pedestal inferior, o poeta novo lança um gancho (Tessera) aos seus antecessores, seja por que via for, de modo a procurar alcançar um patamar como o deles. Tessera pode explicar-se por via da física espacial: um wormhole é uma abertura transdimensional que liga a outro tempo ou espaço, uma ruptura no ponto de ligação de duas teceduras; assim, o poeta novo, com um poema, abre um wormhole, que o associa a uma família de poemas e poetas; esta ruptura pode dar-se por afirmação, mas tende a dar-se por negação, um interessante exemplo é a agonia expressa por Nietzsche face ao pensamento Hegeliano e Kantiano, que o força a escrever uma antítese destes pensamentos. Kenosis, o passo seguinte, prende-se com as ideias de Repetição e Descontinuidade; à boa maneira Kierkegaardiana, podemos planear tudo para efectuar uma plena repetição de um momento passado, mas não podemos planear o clima. O poeta novo que sobressai não é o que repete, é o que transgride. Este ponto acerca da repetição liga-se muito bem às minhas ideias acerca dos decadentistas e a sua relação com a bússola moral do fin-de-siècle; os decadentistas arriscaram novas experiências para suscitar informação estética aos seus poemas e terminaram julgados for the crime of butt-fancying. Depois de dar continuidade ou romper com a tradição, os temas ou preocupações do novo poeta passam por uma askesis enquanto os dos poetas antigos são postos em comparação com os novos e tudo termina com o inevitável regresso dos mortos, apophrades em movimentos inesperados como o que acontece em “Kafka e seus percursores” de Jorge Luís Borges, que defende que os poetas é que criam os seus percursores através da sua posição cronológica na vida de um leitor e não na comparação cronológica com a sequência de autores de cada época. Não só enquanto leitores, mas também enquanto humanos vivos, sabemos que na vida existe também um jogo de influências. E não deixa de ser terrivelmente fácil adaptar os pontos de Bloom acerca de poesia à vida. Afinal, um dos sentidos da palavra "poético" é o de uma correspondência inesperada entre a vida e a literatura. Não obstante, e tal como os seis estágios do sofrimento propostos por Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, nem toda a gente passa paulatinamente por todos estes passos (Clinamen, Tessera, Kenosis, Capítulo Intermédio, Demonização, Askesis e Apophrades). Sugiro a leitura do poema com que o livro termina, acerca de movimentos tomados em vida, possibilidade, actualidade e o aborto da experiência que não pôde ser tida.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alex "greatest" drizzle Kitchens "ever"

    Ok this book is billed as the starting point for Literary Criticism in America. Ok let me say that Harold Bloom has an idea about poetry as being written from a place that is not uh..."of ones-self." That's not his wording. His idea is that poetry should cover all of nature in a big cloak and see the threads that run through it. This is his approach to criticism as well. This book can be read as an introduction to poetry or as a philosophical essay. Ok Bloom see's the innocence of poetry and att Ok this book is billed as the starting point for Literary Criticism in America. Ok let me say that Harold Bloom has an idea about poetry as being written from a place that is not uh..."of ones-self." That's not his wording. His idea is that poetry should cover all of nature in a big cloak and see the threads that run through it. This is his approach to criticism as well. This book can be read as an introduction to poetry or as a philosophical essay. Ok Bloom see's the innocence of poetry and attempts to identify the essence of poetic figures and ideas based on what he sees as the thread that runs through everything. His main argument is that poets look back at poets before them and want to do something different from those who went before. This leads to new work but also takes them away from innocence and the source of poetic inspiration. I think that this is the case in dreaming. We rarely dream when we're living in the modern world because information passes through us in a dream-like state and there's no real reason to look back at things we intentionally overlook in the day. We also experience words as written in stone and are no longer confused or need to fill in blanks because of modern simulated reality. If we dream of objects like a cat with hands that turns into a man doing a handstand then we are doing active dreaming. Our unconscious is primed for creativity in such a way. For Bloom, the unconscious is constantly under siege by The Anxiety of Influence. Poetic innocence implies that the Poet is doing precisely what he wants and doesn't think twice about the consequences. Anxiety implies he has a rigid structure that he needs to adhere to and overcome. These two ideals are in play and the paradox of his thought is the vital part of his theory. For me, poetry has the quality of being different because it allows for new grammar, new rhythm, new imagery. It utilizes all the senses to produce something lesser spirits must catch up to. Isn't that the joy of reading it? That you would have to struggle to understand what it took to reach the level of the greats is the anxiety. That you battle against your ignorance to grasp the poet's method. But once you sit down to create it is probably enormously enjoyable. I think that The Anxiety of Influence is an idea Harold Bloom uses to supplement his vision of direct influence across the generations of poets. Innocence means, at it's heart, free of consequence, and Anxiety basically means the opposite. These contradictory ideas are posed but the paradox isn't resolved. It's posed as the bane of a poet's existence that he will be unable to be innocent again. In his ignorance the poet accepts the Anxiety of Influence rather than innocence and refuses the idea that his innocence can lead him to "the place." If the poet accepts the Anxiety of Influence as his own becoming (Nietzschean book) then innocence must fit itself inside the being of the poet post-Anxiety in order for there to be poet. What is this other than the ability to be playful with the new tools he has earned from previous poets. Innocence can only rest in the fact that the old poets are dead and the poet is the one who can do what he wants because there are no consequences from a dead man nor any of his contemporaries. This new innocence takes poetry as a type of dream where everything gets re-arranged and the currency of vitality is once redeemed by the poem itself. It requires a looking back and directly appropriating old poems. This vision is different from Bloom's vision where the dead men haunt the poet yet he fails to understand his misguided ways.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lee Foust

    Hard for me to critique a book of criticism as its usefulness to one seems, to me, rather more subjective than even the overall value of a work of fiction. Also, as a writer, I will probably tend to be more critical of critics, resenting their critiques of what I do more than the attempts, either successful or failed, of fellow writers of fiction and poetry in their efforts at self-expression. So, that said... Having heard capsulized versions of Bloom's argument here for years in Graduate school Hard for me to critique a book of criticism as its usefulness to one seems, to me, rather more subjective than even the overall value of a work of fiction. Also, as a writer, I will probably tend to be more critical of critics, resenting their critiques of what I do more than the attempts, either successful or failed, of fellow writers of fiction and poetry in their efforts at self-expression. So, that said... Having heard capsulized versions of Bloom's argument here for years in Graduate school (particularly from John Freccero, who found it quite applicable to Dante's presentation of the pilgrim's relationship to the character of Virgil in Alighieri's Commedia) I was quite pleased to find a cheap second hand copy and to actually read the source of the many mere scholarly references and "see for myself," as it were. Sadly, though, I don't feel all that much more enlightened now having read the text. The general thesis still seems quite valid--but I had garnered that from the anecdotal references. Most of the examples given are from Romantic and modern poets whose work I really don't know well enough to judge the validity of the points, as Bloom does in his great erudition. I found the chapter on Askesis or purgation useful as I have written an historical novel about a fellow artist (the Baroque architect Francesco Borromini) in Purgatory so that works for me particularly well--how can such a work not engage the subject, and, through the anxiety of being subsumed by both subject as his aesthetics, not be a kind of purgation of certain baroque impulses in my own work? Check. Bloom writes like a douche. Sad to say, because I went to a couple of his lectures in grad school and I have never, ever been so impressed with someone's store of knowledge and perspicacity in person--I quite liked him. The prose of this text, however, is a bit much for what it is--sounds overly sure of itself and superior and flouncy (whatever that means)--not qualities I saw in the man when I heard him speak. So, ramble ramble. It's an interesting theory/approach but there is more to poetry than anxiety, and more to the human mind as expressed in literature than even Freud imagined, I believe, so its POV is somewhat limited/limiting, no? What do you think?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katarzyna

    So this book came highly recommended, I'm interested in criticism, and generally I expected something challenging to read but at the same time illuminating. The point is, I'm not feeling illuminated at all. This may be because I misunderstood the central idea. This may be also because I find it to be utter bullshit. It is, to be fair, very interesting, and it may well shed some light on the creative process; but while I find it obvious that yes, poets do influence one another, I can't really agr So this book came highly recommended, I'm interested in criticism, and generally I expected something challenging to read but at the same time illuminating. The point is, I'm not feeling illuminated at all. This may be because I misunderstood the central idea. This may be also because I find it to be utter bullshit. It is, to be fair, very interesting, and it may well shed some light on the creative process; but while I find it obvious that yes, poets do influence one another, I can't really agree with the idea of misreadings, since I think that texts can provoke different responses (Roman Ingarden's places of indeterminacy come here to mind), and I found the thing rather difficult to read in general. (This is not, in itself, a bad thing. I didn't expect it to be easy. But I expected it to make sense). The preface, though, and Bloom's thoughts on Shakespeare are brilliant and I wish it didn't stand out from the rest of the book so much - I'd have liked to benefit more from the whole thing. Three stars from me, almost solely for the preface.

  17. 5 out of 5

    10001010001

    I'll just let the professionals do the criticism: https://www.theguardian.com/books/200... I was once accused of being condescending by a previous colleague on Facebook. This was quite … surprising, since I thought not exposing and mocking the American belief "my ignorance is as good as your knowledge" is already benevolent and modest enough. Now, looking at Terry Eagleton, I realized that the viciousness of literature critics is simply too heady for the not-notoriously tender mathematician consci I'll just let the professionals do the criticism: https://www.theguardian.com/books/200... I was once accused of being condescending by a previous colleague on Facebook. This was quite … surprising, since I thought not exposing and mocking the American belief "my ignorance is as good as your knowledge" is already benevolent and modest enough. Now, looking at Terry Eagleton, I realized that the viciousness of literature critics is simply too heady for the not-notoriously tender mathematician conscience and I've been hanging out with the verbally tough guys way too much. But they are out there. And they are far more interesting than those who possess nothing strong enough to offend anyone, a.k.a "nice" people. And, oh, have I ever mentioned that tender colleague labeled himself a "poet"?

  18. 4 out of 5

    secondwomn

    although this purports to be a general theory of poetry, i find it extremely limited in its scope. bloom has insightful things to say, but they aren't as universally applicable as presented (nor will everyone agree about his judgements as to who actually constitutes a great poet). if you are into freudian analysis and male anglo poetry, then this will probably be a 5-star read for you. if your interests take you farther afield, then you may end up feeling similarly excluded by the text. i hate t although this purports to be a general theory of poetry, i find it extremely limited in its scope. bloom has insightful things to say, but they aren't as universally applicable as presented (nor will everyone agree about his judgements as to who actually constitutes a great poet). if you are into freudian analysis and male anglo poetry, then this will probably be a 5-star read for you. if your interests take you farther afield, then you may end up feeling similarly excluded by the text. i hate to give bloom 2 stars, because it's a joy to watch his thought process unfold, but the narrowness of his vision here is distressing. (note: i read the first, not the second, edition) thoroughly useful, however, in terms of my thesis work.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Boomhower

    Bloom's ideas about poetic influence aren't perfect, but they aren't as terrible as his detractors would lead you to believe. I agree with the general theory of influence he puts forth, but his idealized conception of the literary canon and ignorance of the political, social and cultural contexts that inform the process of canonization are what bring the work down. I usually encounter people too enmeshed in cultural warfare to actually write an objective review on Bloom - individuals who tend to Bloom's ideas about poetic influence aren't perfect, but they aren't as terrible as his detractors would lead you to believe. I agree with the general theory of influence he puts forth, but his idealized conception of the literary canon and ignorance of the political, social and cultural contexts that inform the process of canonization are what bring the work down. I usually encounter people too enmeshed in cultural warfare to actually write an objective review on Bloom - individuals who tend towards adverse reactions to relativism and "social-justice lit" (or whatever) will love him, those interested in post colonial, marginalized or transgressive writers will hate him. If you're interested in literature you should read it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brianne

    Ok I tried to tackle this last night. From my notes in the book, it looks like I didn't make it past the first chapter the first read-through. Was probably assigned this book for class. So: Bloom's poetics: Stages 1-3: The poet's last hurrah, progressing through a series of gestures resembling the last gasps of air and fight a person takes before drowning; Stages 4-6: The poet's gradual emptying of self and personality until the poet is able to hold the predecessor's work so blankly that it appea Ok I tried to tackle this last night. From my notes in the book, it looks like I didn't make it past the first chapter the first read-through. Was probably assigned this book for class. So: Bloom's poetics: Stages 1-3: The poet's last hurrah, progressing through a series of gestures resembling the last gasps of air and fight a person takes before drowning; Stages 4-6: The poet's gradual emptying of self and personality until the poet is able to hold the predecessor's work so blankly that it appears as if the predecessor imitates *him*. So Emersonian! So Hindu. The poet as conqueror of time. But then what?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Liam Guilar

    One of those books in which the magisterial critic sits in judgement on the practices of poets and hands out the label of his approval, "Strong Poet" in this case, to whoever he considers most worthy. No matter how many times i reread this book it baffles me that it was so influential.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I didn't really get it. But this book did generate a pretty substantial vocabulary list.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul Wilner

    Nutty, but brilliant - this was before he got REALLY out there. (No offense, Harold, who's probably out there somewhere reading this stuff obsessively.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

    Love this informative, well written work that makes you bend your mind to get out of that box you don't know you're in.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell Foley

    This was one of the more bizarrely inscrutable books I've ever picked up. What do you make of paragraphs like this: The Prometheus in every strong poet incurs the guilt of having devoured just that portion of the infant Dionysus contained in the precursor poet. Orphism, for latecomers, reduces to a variety of sublimation, the truest of defenses against the anxiety of influence, and the one most impairing to the poetic self. Hence Nietzche, lovingly recognizing in Socrates the first master of subl This was one of the more bizarrely inscrutable books I've ever picked up. What do you make of paragraphs like this: The Prometheus in every strong poet incurs the guilt of having devoured just that portion of the infant Dionysus contained in the precursor poet. Orphism, for latecomers, reduces to a variety of sublimation, the truest of defenses against the anxiety of influence, and the one most impairing to the poetic self. Hence Nietzche, lovingly recognizing in Socrates the first master of sublimation, found in Socrates also the destroyer of tragedy. Had he lived to read Freud, Nietzsche might somewhat admiringly have seen in him another Socrates, come to revive the primary vision of a rational substitute for the unattainable, antithetical gratifications of life and art alike. The whole book is like this - this is just a paragraph I picked at random (and the beginning of a chapter at that). What's weird is that I read the summary of this book on Wikipedia and it makes the thesis inside seem crystal clear. It doesn't seem like Bloom is saying anything especially complex - it's just written entirely in this incredibly dense mish-mash of references to classical myths and Freudian terminology that makes it impossible to grab a handle on without decades of background knowledge.

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Hall

    After watching a few interviews featuring Harold Bloom I decided to pick up this book. I must say that it took me a great deal longer to finish than I initially thought. The short length of the book is highly deceptive because of the dense material. However once one cuts their teeth so to speak on the style of writing here, one begins to see that you won't get every reference, you won't be familiar with every poet or passage mentioned yet you will be moved along, wave-like nonetheless. In the en After watching a few interviews featuring Harold Bloom I decided to pick up this book. I must say that it took me a great deal longer to finish than I initially thought. The short length of the book is highly deceptive because of the dense material. However once one cuts their teeth so to speak on the style of writing here, one begins to see that you won't get every reference, you won't be familiar with every poet or passage mentioned yet you will be moved along, wave-like nonetheless. In the end that doesn't keep one from forming an opinion on the overall parts of revisions that are explained in the book. In fact an irony results because of this. When he asserts that poets misinterpret one another, in a way his very work is open to much misinterpretation so that by not getting everything you too see firsthand the process of misprision at play withing yourself. In short for those who say it's silly and unfounded, I can see that in parts. Also for those who say he is profoundly profound I can also see that as well. So this book says everything in terms of poetry and nothing at all. In my opinion it is a thesis steeped in Whitman like solipsism as Whitman himself states in Leaves Of grass: "I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,"

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cristiano Jesus

    É um livro para um leitor mais especializado. Contém muitas referências sobre autores é por isso que convém conhecer os autores e as suas temáticas. São eles: Milton, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Blake, Whitman. Isto porque, Bloom supõe que sabemos o que ele está a falar. Infelizmente, algumas temáticas/conceitos que apresenta, ele só os enuncia e não os explica, pensando que estamos dentro da sua cabeça. É interessante o modo como apresenta a Angústia, pois ela não tem que ver com o modo de escr É um livro para um leitor mais especializado. Contém muitas referências sobre autores é por isso que convém conhecer os autores e as suas temáticas. São eles: Milton, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Blake, Whitman. Isto porque, Bloom supõe que sabemos o que ele está a falar. Infelizmente, algumas temáticas/conceitos que apresenta, ele só os enuncia e não os explica, pensando que estamos dentro da sua cabeça. É interessante o modo como apresenta a Angústia, pois ela não tem que ver com o modo de escrever / estilo, mas com a força que um autor precursor tem sobre o posterior. O poeta já morto adquire uma força tal que chega a assombrar o poeta posterior, no trabalho que realiza.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katie J Schwartz

    I just read the words "Poetic Father's coitus with the Muse," and I'm done. I can no longer go on. I was really interested in the concept of this book, but it all fell apart for me in practice. I don't think Harold Bloom wrote this book to discuss the anxiety of influence. I think he wrote it to show off how much he knows about Romantic poets and his extensive collection of $20 words. Two Stars: This book was not good for me. I can (probably) understand why someone else might like it, but I didn't I just read the words "Poetic Father's coitus with the Muse," and I'm done. I can no longer go on. I was really interested in the concept of this book, but it all fell apart for me in practice. I don't think Harold Bloom wrote this book to discuss the anxiety of influence. I think he wrote it to show off how much he knows about Romantic poets and his extensive collection of $20 words. Two Stars: This book was not good for me. I can (probably) understand why someone else might like it, but I didn't. I won't be recommending it to anyone.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    at times totally inscrutable and requiring a wayyy heavier background in some poets than I had, found parts of the middle not super useful but the first chapter and last three make a lot of sense and are useful as an analytical frame beyond the realm of poetry imo. some of the freudian dreck is crap

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Ozias

    A lot of people like to hate on Bloom, but they can't ignore his importance; this book is one of the books that is more easily disliked. If you want to read a more interesting Bloom work, go for The Invention of the Human.

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