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Bloom, Harold

Bloom, Harold, 1930–2019, American literary critic and scholar, b. The Bronx, N.Y., Ph.D. Yale (1955). The son of Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Russia, he was Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale and Berg Professor of English at New York Univ. He wrote more than 40 books and edited or wrote the introductions for hundreds of other volumes. One of his best-known works, The Anxiety of Influence (1973), postulates a titanic Oedipal struggle in which great writers interpret and revolt against their literary fathers, a theme developed in A Map of Misreading (1974), Poetry and Repression (1976), and Agon (1982). The late Anatomy of Influence (2011) sums up his ideas, reworking his theories of literary influence.

His wide-ranging literary concerns are represented in The Western Canon (1994), in which Bloom analyzed the works of 26 masters; in How to Read and Why (2000), in which he presented a manual for literary enjoyment and enlightenment; in Genius (2002), in which he explored the accomplishments of 100 great writers; in Till I End My Song (2010), in which he gathered and briefly analyzed 100 poems about the end of life; and in The Daemon Knows (2015), in which he paired a dozen masterful American writers, exploring their interconnections and their relationships to the daemon—their spirit of animating genius. His interest in religious and scriptural questions informs such works as Ruin the Sacred Truths (1988), The Book of J (1990), in which he posited that a woman wrote part of the biblical Pentateuch, The American Religion (1992), and Jesus and Yahweh (2005). Bloom also wrote studies of individual authors, e.g., Shelley (1959), Blake (1963), Yeats (1970), Wallace Stevens (1977), and Shakespeare (1998).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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