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5.0 von 5 Sternen At last, a celebration of literature.....
After decades of endless bickering from the School of Resentment, we finally have a bold alternative. Bloom necessarily links many works with the flowering of Western Civilization (our ideas, values, and contradictions), but he remains true to the texts themselves; never inserting needless political commentary and postmodern gibberish. Bloom selects a wide variety of...
Veröffentlicht am 26. Mai 2000 von Brooke276
3.0 von 5 Sternen The British Canon
Bloom's writing is suffused with a largeness of mind and heart one rarely encounters-something, I suppose, that may come only with age & experience. However, a few significant points should be, IMO, stressed: 1. Bloom's tedious & a bit annoying crusade against "Establishment" & "School of Resentment" is something one can (dis)agree with...
Veröffentlicht am 10. Dezember 1999 von Arvan Harvat
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen At last, a celebration of literature.....,
After decades of endless bickering from the School of Resentment, we finally have a bold alternative. Bloom necessarily links many works with the flowering of Western Civilization (our ideas, values, and contradictions), but he remains true to the texts themselves; never inserting needless political commentary and postmodern gibberish. Bloom selects a wide variety of authors, which allows the reader to understand the diverse nature of the canon itself (compared to the artificial and often times unwarranted "inclusions" often seen in more politically correct collections). However, the key to this book, or any of Bloom's undeniably readable work is that he, unlike the self-righteous voices of multiculturalism (who are only concerned with "fairness," righting past wrongs, oppression, and the "hidden forces" of privilege in literature), understands that the only concept that truly matters is the one least accepted in our current age -- JOY. Bloom brings back this underrated and long forgotten reaction to the written word and I thank him for that.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen hurray for non-politically correct writing,
I have said lots about Bloom in reviews of his other books. Suffice it to say that he was a literary genius who took advantage of his odd sleeping patterns and low need for sleep to read scores of books a week for his whole life. Therefore, I appreciate Bloom for his encylopedic knowledge of literature. And don't think he hasn't read contemporary multi-cultural works -- it's just that he never loses his perspective because he can hold the classics in his hands along with new works and compare them in an unbiased way. Like his book on Shakespeare, this book's main virtue is that it will inspire both the inexperienced reader and the long time reader to pick up many of these masterpieces and read them (or reread them). For that alone, Bloom deserves praise. You may not always agree with him, but you cannot help but be in awe of his knowledge base which extends from the biblical to the modern with few gaps. I found the reading list helpful as well. Of course he leaves out many great authors, but he's not trying to be all inclusive and that shouldn't stop you from seeking out other great works of literature. This is a great introduction to many great works that deserve to be read by any thinking person.
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Western Canon - A Review in Bad Verse,
Must read Shakespeare; must read Dante; Ditto Chaucer and Cervantes.
Shakespeare's voices (bold or whining) Break new ground by self defining.
Chaucer's wife with gusto liveth. To Falstaff doth she model giveth.
In Dante's strange vangelo nouvo, Beatrice solo adorado.
The world of play is best defined By Don and Sancho, intertwined.
Montaigne makes Pascal blasé; Moliere blows Racine away.
Milton's Satan's cunning mission Smacks of Iago's nihilism.
Though Dr. J. his own poems stifled, His criticism goes unrivaled.
Goethe's grand Walpurgis Nacht Shines as classicism mocked.
Wordsworth shows us toxic hope; Austen's Anne, through yearning, copes.
Walter Whitman, autoerotic crier of the New American Religion, Stands at the center of the American Canon With his trinity of Soul, Self, MeMyself.
Emily Dickinson Transports cognition, past The edge of the Known In the Blank of an eye. Only the diligent Follow her out there, Leaving all others Alone - In the Dark.
Bleak House, with its rich, inventive strangeness, Dazzles the imagination and the mind.
Middlemarch, with its subtle, diffusive moral import, Sneaks up on the reader from behind.
Hadji Murad, the Chechen hero, Makes it Tolstoy seven, pretenders zero.
Ibsen's Gynt and Hedda Gabler Hint at mankind's trollish nature.
Those who slip the Freudian noose see Hamlet ain't no Oedipussy.
Had O. J. Simpson studied Proust, His perspective might have saved The Juice.
Make Beth eat ham, let's seize her learwick. Joy stews snakes, 'pears agonistic.
Who's afraid of Walter Pater? Reading's Woolf's true alma mater.
Patiently not waiting for his consciousness (Or anyone else's, for that matter) To grasp the indestructible ground of being, Spinning tales of chaos and disorder, Bursting at the seems with impenetrable meaning, Kafka sets the tone for the current age.
Near the closing of this age, Latin writers take the stage. Borges con su Fabulismo; Neruda sin su Stalinismo; Pessoa with his three fine sidemen; All six owe a debt to Whitman.
Samuel Beckett expanded, having no alternative, On his canonical influences. Shakespeare sat above it, as if he were untouchable, In a cottage in Stratford.
As Relevance replaces Art, Theocratic Prophets start To rub aesthetic cares away. "A canon's sore in need", I say. So though his vision's rife with gloom, Here's three cheers for Harold Bloom.
4.0 von 5 Sternen superb,
Only Shakespeare here prevents 5 stars. But I was inclining to three stars as it seemed to me the professor had trouble organzing his brilliant scholarship into coherent paragraphs. But, midway through my comprehension improved, with essays on Wordsworth, and Austen, and then just a brilliant chapter on Emily Dickinson--near Shakespearean in language and thought, this author is brilliantly insightful with precise, profuse vocabulary--followed by equally nice chapters on Tolstoy and Freud. And so I respectfully differ with some reviews in criticism of the writing ability, which I believe on par with those the professor reviews. Thus, to me, the writing, the enormous IQ, memory and synthesis of material, scholarship and vast depth of insight are the good parts of the book. Though an unqualified judge, I believe the professor gets himself in trouble in the subjective part of the book, to wit his opinions of his subject matter, and the way he characterizes and interprets the canon, in my humble view, very narrowly. While I appreciate literature as an explanation of intellectual freedom, and I think I understand the professor's almost mystical "secular transcendence", it seems to me that this buzz is reached too much by a concentration in the literature of the weird, the strange, the bizarre and at times repulsive (Whitman and Proust). In defense of the author, he anticipates and contradicts every argument, and he, contrary to many reviews, supports everything (actually ad naseum if you read the whole book). The basic conclusions are convincing to the point of unassailability, and yet there is still a little wonder whether we are looking at literature here through a most narrow and obsessive prism. To me this book is a must read. It is overwhelming.
3.0 von 5 Sternen The British Canon,
Bloom's writing is suffused with a largeness of mind and heart one rarely encounters-something, I suppose, that may come only with age & experience. However, a few significant points should be, IMO, stressed: 1. Bloom's tedious & a bit annoying crusade against "Establishment" & "School of Resentment" is something one can (dis)agree with or not, but his cantankerous repetitive diatribe, flowing from the first page to the last, bores imaginary disinterested reader ( probably only disgruntled academics yelp " Yes! Yes! " in musty corners of dilapidated libraries ). 2.The best chapters, radiating joy, gusto of a reading experience & mesmerizing a reader ready for the sacred bookworm initiation are essays on Shakespeare, Dante, Montaigne, Whitman, Tolstoy and Proust. The parts on Joyce and Freud are sad examples of misreading ( Bloom's obsessive-compulsive word, like "inscrutable" for Conrad ). 3. Bloom's anglomania ( how else to call it ? ) is guilty for the endemic of dullness literally wrecking more than a half of the book. Maybe I'm a hopeless case of a continental European reviewer, but: a) the Bardolatry is frequently distasteful and plainly wrong ( not that Shakespeare is not on the top in the company of 4 or 5 other colleagues; just, he aint in the solitary position ) b) with all due respect, this book could/should have been issued without Chaucer, Johnson, Wordsworth, Austen, Eliot, Woolf and ( probably ) Dickens and Kafka basking in the glory of pillars of the Western literature. c) The conspicuous absence of Boccaccio, Voltaire, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Conrad and Faulkner is an outrage that, in my eyes, sinks this, otherwise valuable book.
3.0 von 5 Sternen What are we to do with Bloom?,
Von Ein Kunde
On one level,you have Harold Bloom the great thinker,the defender of intellectual and artistic standards against the blatant phillistinism of 'multiculturalism', and other forms of social cant: like his student Camille Paglia he loves art and brilliantly champions its sanctity. But also like Paglia, Bloom's actual approach to art is at times dismally vulgar. He is enamored with Freud and accepts his simplistic, ignorant 'explanation' of the artistic imagination (sublimated libido and all that jazz)...Bloom seems too excited about discovering the Freudian 'anxiety of influence', as he called it, to actually examine individual genius and style; he says himself that Beckett's 'Murphy' pleases him so much because Joyce's influence on that novel is obvious. Bloom on Nabokov is even more depressing: a bold genius who makes sense only to those readers who come to him with developed imaginations unemcumbered with general ideas and accepted conventions, Nabokov is a major thorn in the side of Bloom's approach, with delights in dragooning differences under a particular flag of myth or general thought. In his introduction to the Critical Views volume of Nabokov, Bloom makes a complete fool of himself by stating that Proust was Nabokov's main influence ("hmm, Proust is concerned with memory...and, so is Nabokov! Aha! There is the influence!"--what a fool!)and, get this, that the second part of 'Lolita' is an unconscious retelling of Freud's 'Beyond the Pleasure Principle' ("Hmm, Humbert desires Lolita, so he's gonna kill Quilty for taking her away--Eros to Thanatos!"). It is sad to see such a beautiful, intricate masterpiece gruffly manhandled by simplistic, second-rate thought; Bloom exlplains away Nabokov's repeated dismissals of Freud as merely an aversion fed by ignorance.
Don't get me wrong, I respect alot of Bloom's work (his scholarly work on the Romantics, and his defense of Shelley and Keats against that muddle-headed criminal, Eliot), his loving adoration of Shakespeare, and his steadfast position that art should not be compromised in order to redress past social ills.... but why does he have to love Freud, who Akhmatova once called 'the number 1 enemy of creativity'?
5.0 von 5 Sternen Immortal Literature versus Political Academia,
Harold Bloom's book The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages is centered around the concept of a literary canon, which Bloom describes as "what has been preserved out of what has been written." The term canon is religious in origin, initially referring to wisdom literature chosen for inclusion into Scripture by the Christian Church. Bloom's book addresses the preservation issue, that is, how do we choose what to preserve and grant canonical status? The current canon debate seems to have arisen from a more modern definition of the term, referring to the books chosen by our institutions for teaching. Bloom asserts that a recent emergence of politically-motivated attacks will result in the imminent displacement of the traditional Western Canon from our schools' curriculum. Bloom accordingly names his first chapter "An Elegy for the Canon" and identifies two factions in the canon debate: the right-wing element that defends the canon with appeals to Platonic arguments of moral good, and the left wing "journalistic-academic" element Bloom names the School of Resentment that attacks the canon with appeals to Aristotelian arguments for a work's supposed social good. Bloom claims both disinterest and disassociation with this political debate and argues that both sides are misguided in their approach. Bloom then dedicates the remainder of his book to explaining why the attackers and defenders are misguided in their criteria and offering his own arguments for canonical inclusion. The essential criteria that Bloom advocates is one rooted in tradition and purely artistic considerations: for Bloom, the only true test of literary excellence is aesthetic quality, a criteria that judges a work based on its artistic merit alone and is unconcerned with political, moral, or social issues.
Bloom is possibly the preeminent literary critic in America and is well-known for his theory of the anxiety of influence, reflecting his belief that, "there can be no strong, canonical writing without the process of literary influence." Bloom contends that, "any strong literary work creatively misreads and therefore misinterprets a precursor text or texts" and that "tradition is not only a handing-down process or process of benign transmission; it is also a conflict between past genius and present aspiration...[a] conflict [that] cannot be settled by social concerns, or by the judgement of any particular generation of impatient idealists."
Bloom places Shakespeare and Dante at the center of the Western Canon and claims that any writers who follow must inevitably wrestle with their greatness. This bold contention is a courageous and provocative one that requires a satisfying justification. But Bloom, in accordance with his reputation, rises to the challenge, surveying the vast landscape of literary criticism and presenting the greatest passages of analysis on the reasons for Shakespeare's greatness. Although many critics are quoted, the German writer Goethe is granted the final word: "Shakespeare confers on [his characters] intelligence and imagination; and by means of the image in which they, by virtue of that intelligence, contemplate themselves objectively, as a work of art, he makes them free artists of themselves." Bloom subsequently concludes that the singular excellence of Shakespeare is "his power of representation of human character and personality and their mutabilities" and leaves us with the observation that "at once no one and everyone, nothing and everything, Shakespeare IS the Western Canon."
In the remaining chapters, Bloom continues his analysis of the major canonical figures, carefully applying his criteria of aesthetic value throughout. The chapters are organized according to age: the Aristocratic Age, the Democratic Age, and the Chaotic Age (understood to begin with the twentieth-century and including the present day). The major figures include Milton, Wordsworth, Austen, Whitman, Dickinson, Eliot, Dickens, Tolstoy, Joyce, Woolf, Kafka, Beckett, Borges, and a few others. The Appendix offers a suggested reading list of well over 500 authors from all ages that Bloom considers worthy of reading.
Bloom's book serves as a touchstone for literary criticism and the teaching of literature, and I would certainly recommend it for both academic and public libraries. The reader follows an experienced and formidable literary critic in his analysis of the strongest literary works. In the process, the reader learns a great deal about literary textual analysis and our body of Western literature. The reader also gains a sense of the current debate surrounding the canon in our universities and the present nature of literary criticism as it is being practiced. Bloom cannot hide that he is most disturbed *not* by the right wing moralists but the academics in the School of Resentment who aim to replace aesthetic value and high standards with a program for social justice as the principal criteria of literary excellence. Bloom extends his lament by discussing other elements of contemporary society, including MTV, short attention spans, inpatient readers, failing public schools, professors of cultural politics, the loss of love for reading and good literature, and the predicted conversion of Departments of English to literature-depleted Departments of Cultural Studies. In the end, even if you don't fully share his views, you cannot help but sympathize with Bloom's genuine concerns, be moved by his cogent arguments, and respect his learned and masterful analysis of the literary art he loves so well.
4.0 von 5 Sternen Important and educational, but with a lot of problems.,
Von Ein Kunde
Mr. Bloom has really written four different books mixed together: a polemic on the
nature of literary greatness, and perhaps on the nature of beauty generally; a survey of
Western literature; a guide for those wishing to study Western literature and criticism
systematically; and a collection of his own critical essays and essays in criticism.
Bloom's polemic is against the various social-value parties of literarians, who look at art
as a social phenomenon, for better or for worse. The left-wing version thinks that art has
traditionally been used to oppress womenanminorities, and should now be used to repay
the debt to womenanminorities. Aesthetic affirmative action. The right-wing version
thinks that art has always been behind the moral superiority of the educated classes, so if
you want to be moral and educated, you'd better read the right books too. Bloom
attacks both, returning to the concepts of "aesthetic value" (his quotes) and literary influence.
I'm on his side, but he does not even discuss any evidence to support his claims, and in
any case nobody ever persuades anybody in this kind of argument. I also don't know
why he repeats over hundreds of pages what he could have said on the subject in
As to the survey and guide, Mr. Bloom perfoms an important service in
explaining to today's student and reader the very concept of the Western literary canon.
His remarks on the importance of influence, and especially on the centrality of
Shakespeare, are also good. As to the twenty-six writers whom he discusses at length,
there are no obvious and gross mistakes, but one sometimes wonders at his choice of
writers and works: is Montaigne really more "crucial" than Baudelaire, or even more
"representative" of the French canon? Is Faust II really more canonical than Faust
Perhaps the weakest part of the book, and without doubt the longest, is the
collection of Bloom's original ideas on the importance of the twenty-six. To paraphrase
an old Supreme Court decision, Bloom's idea that Shakespeare gains his historical
importance because his characters develop from listening to their own speeches shows
the critic's ingenuity more than it explains anything about Shakespeare. Mr. Bloom
should have stuck with has own quotation from Hazlitt on the subject. In a similar vein:
the Kafkaesque, which is really only a sort of uncannyness, is not really what's basic in
Kafka, whose most famous works are better in parts than as wholes, anyway. What's
important in Kafka is his "patient gnosticism". And so on.
This book is too long, and
the original criticism is not worth much, but The Western Canon may be very useful as
an introduction to literary criticism, and even as a learner's guide to the western canon.
(This review is based on the hard-cover edition.
5.0 von 5 Sternen An End To Literature?,
Von Ein Kunde
The Western Canon is indisputably a great book. It is also likely the last book of its kind that will ever be written. No younger trained reader can consider its central thesis, a defense of the aesthetic, without sniggering--obviously such a contention is merely a defense of what's known, in the jargon, as the "hegemony." It doesn't matter, to these people, of which I am one, that the existence of such a thing has not been proven--the seminars and the books, or texts, will continue to be produced regardless. If these people, whom Bloom calls the School of Resentment, are defeated, they will merely be replaced by right-wing elements with their own party line. The young (such as myself) are not being trained to do things in any other way; hence, there will be no successors to Bloom. This is, perhaps, a very good thing. For it might just clear the way for a really scientific study of literature, of the sort already being proposed by Stephen Pinker, who suggested in his book, The Language Instinct, that perhaps narrative literature is the result of an evolutionary development in the simian brain. This may or may not be true, of course, but because literature professors have so obviously botched their profession, it may be the way of the future. Thus, one ought to read Bloom's book now, while there is still time. It is the last book we will ever read that takes "the Western Canon" seriously.
3.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating misreading of the classics,
There are a lot of things to like about Harold Bloom's book The Wesern Canon, and quite a bit to dislike. What is really good about his approach to literature is his passion about the classics of the Western tradition, and the his fierce recrimination of contemporary literary criticism and its "school of resentment." Whatever else you can say, it is clear that Bloom cares deeply about his subject and as a lover of books, you can't help but to be caught up in that enthusiasm as a reader. That being said, I still found many, many things that are deeply wrong with the way in which he approaches literature; he gives what I regard as horrible misreadings of some of the classics that he is championing. His reading of Joyce's "Scylla and Charybdis" episode is horribly wrong, as is his estimation of Shakespeare's influence on Joyce's work. He is equally wrong about his approach to Shakespeare himself, and his reading of King Lear borders on atrocity. Dismaying overall are Bloom's obsession with literary influence, which tends to grievously trivialize virtually all authors that have the misfortune of being born after Shakespeare and Dante. Also, his main obsession is the view of art as art itself, his obsession that the aesthetic has no relation to reality but only to other works. A disappointment, because an embrace of Western literature is just what is needed today.. this fails to really do so effectively.
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