Genius A Mosaic o One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds, by Harold Bloom


Harold Bloom’s book gives us a list of one hundred creative minds. The book is worth reading just to see who he picked for the list. He said, “I base this book, ‘Genius’ upon my belief that appreciation is a better mode for the understanding of achievement than are all the analytical kinds of accounting for the emergence of exceptional individuals.”

Since Bloom is one of the most well read in Western literature, as anyone alive today, his list matters. His conclusions seem to be based more on what influenced each person than the person themselves. 

One person on the list, Shakespeare, seems to be the one Bloom values for more than his influences. He treats Falstaff and Hamlet as models for people to choose between even though neither ever walked the earth.  They are both examples of literary personalities with power that is beyond themselves.   

Bloom likely would have said what William Blake said, “that that the history of religion consisted in ‘Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales’.” He added that “Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all emerge from that process, and all of them are endlessly far away from the exuberant beauty of the Yahwist.”

Bloom has taken the storyteller of Genesis, Exodus and Numbers, and calling it the Yahwist turning it into a literary character. The creation of this myth gives Bloom several options. By calling the Yahwist a woman he pushes the feminists who see little female influence in those literary giants Bloom favors, and likewise other scholars are left objecting to the divinity claimed by the myth but with nothing substantial to justify themselves, either.

The book "Genius" defines literature as what exists between the lines. Bloom told us that his choice for these 100 people was “wholly arbitrary and idiosyncratic.” We should take him at his word and understand that what is important to him is the connections and who each is influenced by.

See Harold Blooms list of recommended books click here

See Review of Shakespeare by Harold Bloom click here or on the book

See Literary Favorites section for more on Harold Bloom. Click here


“Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.” 

“Real reading is a lonely activity.” 

“We read to find ourselves, more fully and more strangely than otherwise we could hope to find.”

"Everyone wants a prodigy to fail; it makes our mediocrity more bearable.” 

“We read, frequently if not unknowingly, in search of a mind more original than our own.” 

“We all fear loneliness, madness, dying. Shakespeare and Walt Whitman, Leopardi and Hart Crane will not cure those fears. And yet these poets bring us fire and light.”