One of the only remaining literary critics who hadn’t become a political writer rather than an aesthetic one, Harold Bloom was among the most Romantic, pugnacious and controversial critics of his time. His dictum that ‘the only method is the self’ divided him from an academy increasingly convinced that the only method was the use of socio-political-cum- literary ‘Theory’. The New York Times once described him as ‘the most original literary critic in America’, which is underplaying it not a little.
As he once said, ‘To a rather considerable extent, literary studies have been replaced by that incredible absurdity called cultural studies which, as far as I can tell, are neither cultural nor are they studies.’
Bloom’s views of originality, influence and critical judgement are well-summed up by this quote, from his great (and perhaps most important) book, written for a popular audience, The Western Canon:
What theory did…
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