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Thread: How did Harold Bloom rise to such a level of eminence?

  1. #16
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    He is an interesting and entertaining writer. But he also holds fairly conservative views, and many people love him for it. Bloom believes in, and defends, 'the canon'. Unfortunately, just because that canon consists of dead, white European males some seem to think it's worthless and should be ditched. I don't know about other countries, but here in the UK the academic/literary world is dominated by people with liberal-Left views who seem more interested in race, identity and sexuality than artistic excellence. Right now, there is a campaign by black British academics to "de-colonize" university curriculums, which is another way of saying "cut out as many dead white Europeans as possible and replace them with black writers." Imagine a group of Africans going to China and telling them that their Universities were "too Chinese"!! Another group were trying to have the poet laureate replaced by Benjamin Zephaniah, a Jamaican poet influenced by hip hop and rap music. I am reading a biography of the 19th-century English poet Swinburne at the moment (almost forgotten today- just another of those dead, white European males). He once wrote a selection of poems for a literary magazine, one in French, one in Latin, one in Italian and one in ancient Greek. And by the standards of his time that wasn't extraordinary. Benjamin Zephaniah can barely write coherent English, let alone French or Latin!

    Bloom's real gripe is that we've replaced deep learning and study with an insipid political correctness. In other words, it doesn't really matter what you read, or how much, or how intelligently, so long as you hold the 'correct' PC views. I have printed off his list of the great books ('Bloom's canon' as it is known) and am following it closely.
    Last edited by WICKES; 02-20-2019 at 10:30 AM.

  2. #17
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    Bloom real grip is a BS conservative non-sense. He is quick to add like a hypocrite several modern jewish writers in his "world canon" list because he is Jewish. He is doing exactly what he "complains" about african americans (in the case) or feminists. Also his claims that the canon is purely aesthetic is infantile since aesthetics is in many aspects ideological and he also goes for it, when he leaves some very relevant dead white man such as Foucault or Derrida from his lists only because they are marxists.

    The world canon does not belong to anyone or any culture, when afro-american academics go to introduce african authors in universities, they are not damaging the Canon at all. Chinua Achebe didnt remove Conrad from the canon, he added several names, after all and several women writers from XIX century (and before) were added to the canon because the efforts by XX century feminists and their close readings of the works. Literature is open and so it is the canon, that is the point. You are not replaced (if you are not good enough to survive without a circunstancial reading by students, then you are just not canon. Melville, Dante, Machiavelli, Homer, and god know how many authors had periods of ostracism and bigger enemies than some random teacher somewhere and they still canonical), the canon grows. It is absolutely ridiculous to think when you add several perspectives and culture (like England, hardly a dead white man country now), they will read and vallue the same literature. And please Swinburne created a national sport: to pinpoint how over-the top his poems were, already in the XIX century by several white man now dead. He is not that impressive and talking four languages? Are you sure guys like Keats or Cervantes are such multilingual prodigies?

    Bloom failure is probally his own sucess, because otherwise, he would have killed works of art with aesthetical merits just because they do not fit his ideological standpoint.
    Last edited by JCamilo; 02-20-2019 at 01:27 PM.
    #foratemer

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    I wouldn't argue with the idea that Swinburne could write badly but he wrote a lot and some of it is good. He ain't as powerful as say Tennyson or Browning but poetry needs its Swinburnes too.

  4. #19
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    Tennyson, another dead white man, was quite maligned in the XX century, way more than Swinburne because Tennyson was the main representative of that age, yet, his reading never went to the point he was not read anymore or that his influence couldn't be denied. Swinburne, with his ocasional merit, is less read than then because he is a lesser poet, not because he was a dead white man having his reputation smeared by some imaginary conspirary of diversity pawns.

    Let's face it, Ideology has a say on the canon, just like in any canon, but it is not something that can be corrupt "the canon".
    #foratemer

  5. #20
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    Swinburne probably never had sex with a monkey and then ate it, although he once claimed he had. His poetry is noted for his skill with rhymes and rhythms. He was also (to return to the subject of this thread) a noted critic, who wrote:

    To Walt Whitman in America

    Send but a song oversea for us,
    Heart of their hearts who are free,
    Heart of their singer, to be for us
    More than our singing can be;
    Ours, in the tempest at error,
    With no light but the twilight of terror;
    Send us a song oversea!

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