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Harold Bloom

Harold Bloom (born July 11, 1930) is an American literary critic, best known for defending the Western canon, which amounted to resisting the Post-Colonialism, Feminist and Multi-Culturalism movements in academic literary criticism.

Table of contents
1 Biography
2 Judgements concerning recent writers
3 Bibliography
4 Websites
5 Awards


The son of William and Paula (Lev) Bloom, Harold Bloom was born in New York City and lived there until he entered Cornell University, where he earned a B.A. in 1951. Going on to Yale University for graduate study, he received his Ph.D. in 1955 and has been a member of the Yale faculty since that time. In 1958 he married Jeanne Gould; they have two sons, Daniel Jacob and David Moses.

Bloom began his career by defending the reputations of the High Romantic poets of the early nineteenth century against neo-Christian critics influenced by such writers as T.S. Eliot.

After a personal crisis in the late sixties, Bloom became deeply interested in the ancient mystic traditions of Gnosticism, Kabbalah and Hermetism. Influenced by his reading, he began a series of books that focussed on the way in which poets struggled to create their own individual poetic visions without being overcome by the influence of the previous poets who inspired them to write. Bloom continued to write about influence theory throughout the seventies and eighties, which has crept into everything he has written since.

Beginning with The Book of J in 1990, Bloom began a series of miscellaneous works that reached out to a more popular audience. The publicity surrounding The Western Canon turned him into something of a celebrity. His critical work is often associated with Camille Paglia's.

Judgements concerning recent writers

Bloom's association with the Western canon has provoked a substantial amount of interest in his opinon concerning the relative importance of contemporary writers.

In the late 1980s, Bloom told an interviewer: "Probably the most powerful living Western writer is Samuel Beckett. He’s certainly the most authentic." Beckett died in 1989, and Bloom has not suggested who occupies that position now.

Concerning British writers: "Geoffrey Hill is the strongest British poet now active," and "no other contemporary British novelist seems to me to be of [Iris] Murdoch's eminence."

In his 2003 book, Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds, he named Portuguese writer Jose Saramago as "the most gifted novelist alive in the world today," and "one of the last titans of an expiring literary genre."

Of American novelists, he declared in 2003 "there are four living American novelists I know of who are still at work and who deserve our praise." Claiming "they write the Style of our Age, each has composed canonical works," he identified them as Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy and Don Delillo.

In Kabbalah and Criticism (1975) he identified Robert Penn Warren, James Merrill, John Ashberry and Elizabeth Bishop as the most important living American poets. By the 1990s he reguarly named A.R. Ammons along with Ashberry and Merrill, and he has lately come to identify Henri Cole as the crucial American poet of the generation following those three.