The Western Canon, by Harold Bloom


"The Western Canon's" focus on the writers representing collectively the important writers since the time of the Greeks but it is also a backdrop for the despair Harold Bloom feels for all those that have diminished literature with their own social agenda, including feminists, multiculturalists, and Marxists all of whom he refers to as the School of Resentment.  

The book presented as "An Elegy for the Canon" presents the state of literary studies today that, from Bloom’s point of view, is best represented by 26 writers, from among several hundred that he also lists in the back of he book, that he lists as canonical or more specifically, important. Bloom regards the 26 not only as great artists, but as the chief representatives of their literary cultures and collectively they are "Western Canon". We will all likely find some names of authors we like that are not among the 26 or even on the big list. Bloom says some authors are left off because their work does not represent aesthetic accomplishment. *** 

(see poetry reviewed section for Blooms thoughts and Oscar Wilde's quote “All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling". To be natural is to be obvious, and to be obvious is to be inartistic and why some are not on these lists)

Harold Bloom’s thoughts, and his personal template approach, used to look at the great writers, presents an interesting profile that is addictive.  

All this said it is still his own bias for Shakespeare, in spite of the other 26 writers in this book,  that is made clear.  In the preface of the book he says there "is no cognitive originality in the whole history of philosophy comparable to Shakespeare's.” Many feel he has gone to far with this Shakespeare obsession. and this book confirms that.

Published in 1994, Harold Bloom’s “The Western Canon” could barely suppress its nostalgia for a time past, when the English department was the crown jewel in the humanities, and the literary critic with his refined sensibilities was vitality important as the intellectual with the answers.

Some may think, Bloom himself included, that it is Bloom who now defines the "Western Canon."

See Literary Favorites Section and Post on Harold Bloom for more thoughts about this author. (Click Here)

 Harold Bloom, The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages

“Real reading is a lonely activity.”

“All writers are to some extent inventors, describing people as they would like to see them in life.” 

“Originality must compound with inheritance.” 

“At our present bad moment, we need above all to recover our sense of literary individuality and of poetic autonomy.”