May 15, 2015

"The pseudo feminists, the pseudo Marxists, the pseudo power-and gender-freaks... I call them all, in capital letters, the School of Resentment."

"I always get nasty reviewers. I couldn’t care less," said Harold Bloom, asked by Time Magazine whether he "anticipate[s] flak" because his "new book, The Daemon Knows, features 12 American writers touched by genius – only one of whom is a woman."
I don’t even bother anymore. I’m always being denounced.
I assumed I knew who the one woman is, and I was right. Here's the book, in case you want to check the list (encourage old man Bloom by buying it).

52 comments:

MayBee said...

I'm going to guess Joan Didion.

Now I'm going to go look.

MayBee said...

Oh. Ug. Poetry.

Big Mike said...

I guessed Nora Roberts (no I didn't -- just pulling your leg).

But I'd have never guessed HER. Did she ever publish anything that wasn't treacle?

Coupe said...

It is the intensity of their preoccupation with the sublime

Never in a million years could I come up with that sentence, even with a $100k book advance.

C'est magnifique!

Smilin' Jack said...

I'm really surprised she made the list...maybe the Resenters got to Bloom after all.

Wonder if he points out that all her poems can be sung to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas."

Paco Wové said...

I guessed right, along with Althouse.
Maybe it's an age thing. She seemed like the obvious choice.

Sebastian said...

I associated "writers" with fiction and guessed Edith Wharton. I think she qualifies.

But I do like Bloom's resistance to the School of Resentment. It's the school in which you have to fail to pass.

furious_a said...

"...XXX holds the Naomi Wolf Chair at the Grievance Studies Department of the School of Resentment."

Fandor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fandor said...

Harold Bloom is alright in my book.
Geniuses move through time and space to their own music.
Everyone and everything else is just a distraction to their all important brain work.
Let them think and write in peace.

sean said...

Yeah, there's really only one American female contender for top literary honors. Interestingly, she's a poet. Is there a female American novelist in the top rank? I can't think of one.

averagejoe said...

I guessed Dickinson too. She was a genius, and her poetry was unique and inspired. What other American woman would you include as a genius writer? Eudora Welty? Maybe. Flannery O'Connor? Absolutely! Joyce Carol Oates? Don't make me laugh. As for the men on the list, I'd call Frost a genius for sure, Twain and Faulkner maybe, but the rest, not really. Henry James? Ugh. If pretentious, turgid and impenetrable prose is a mark of genius, then Henry James was the greatest genius evah!

furious_a said...

Not Maya Angelou?

Stone racist, straight up.

rhhardin said...

Harold Bloom is great. The American Religion, The Book of J, Ruin the Sacred Truths.

Vicki Hearne said of him, in an essay disagreeing with something, that even his mistakes are fruitful.

Vicki Hearne is worth reading, if you're wondering what a woman writing well is like. She's one of a kind.

Adam's Task, Bandit, Animal Happiness, the latter having the Bloom disagreement about the book of Job.

Ann Althouse said...

I haven't read his definition of genius. It doesn't necessarily mean whose end product is best. The list is heavy on the poets, who are more genius-y, don't you think?

More hard labor and persistence in the novel-writing game.

Ann Althouse said...

I once got into the most ridiculous discussion with somebody about "The Book of J." He was pushing it as important, but he couldn't answer the first question about it, and he didn't have the grace to just admit he hadn't read it or read enough about it to have any opinion at all. I was stuck in a cab with him — some professor — and there was another professor there too. It was after a dinner party, where everyone had been drinking, and the Book-of-J promoting guy could not figure a way out of the conversation (which I didn't even want to have) and he ended up so bright red that I was extremely uncomfortable.

And that's my opinion of "The Book of J."

rhhardin said...

The thing about Vicki Hearne is that she writes like a woman, crosswise but on target.

The usual woman writing is scatterbrained. No target.

rhhardin said...

Bloom claims that the old testament was written by a woman, in the Book of J.

Women would like it except Bloom writes so much better than they do.

rhhardin said...

Bloom was Camille Paglia's adviser, I think.

Leslie Graves said...

I got it wrong...guessed Flannery O'Connor.

Coupe said...

Re: Flannery

No, no, way too Belle Atlanta for Yale.

The Godfather said...

When I was in prep school I was a big Emily Dickinson fan. I don't know why. I wrote a paper about her for my English class, and as a result my English teacher and the school librarian took me to visit the Dickinson museum in Amherst, MA -- about an hour and a half drive each way from West Hartford.

Now that I'm old ("I wear my trousers rolled"), I don't have time for poetry anymore. I probably don't have time for Harold Bloom anymore, either. But maybe I'll try his book. Or maybe the one about "J".

Tank said...

Should have been Wharton IMHO.

Very humble!

Sebastian said...

"The list is heavy on the poets, who are more genius-y, don't you think?"

Yes. It's easier to fake sublimity in poetry.

"More hard labor and persistence in the novel-writing game."

Hmm. Not sure about that. But it is easier to read novels as feats of hard labor and persistence.

MadisonMan said...

Oh. Ug. Poetry.

This made me come close to laughing out loud, alone here in my office.

AReasonableMan said...

furious_a said...
"...XXX holds the Naomi Wolf Chair at the Grievance Studies Department of the School of Resentment."


To be fair Bloom sounds pretty whiny himself. Maybe it is professional hazard for those who teach rather than do.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

Ordered the Kindle edition through your portal. Great quote. First time Gusing your portal.

rhhardin said...

``When there was as yet no shrub of the field upon earth, and as yet no grasses of the field had sprouted, because Yahweh had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the soil, but a flow welled up from the ground and watered the whole surface of the earth, then Yahweh molded Adam from the earth's dust (adamah), and blew into the nostrils the breath of life, and Adam became a living being.''

Harold Bloom comments: ``To shape by molding, to make a fiction, is to fashion Adam out of the adamah, out of the red clay. Adam is not faked; he is fictitious and not factitious. Yet J's uncanny trope of this fashioning has become another facticity for us. True reading would recover the trope, and yet can any of us avoid literalizing it?'' _Ruin the Sacred Truths_ p.10

My addition: the breath of life is the point at which life is added, and it happens by way of a figure of speech. As if literary effects were life.

This is a confusion of use and mention what produces an origin that you can't think back through. Hence it's literalized.

The production of origins happens that way.

rhhardin said...

There is also Alan Bloom (The Closing of the American Mind or something like that) who is not so good.

Stanley Cavell takes him to task for it somewhere in Critical Inquiry, in a book review.

fivewheels said...

Wonder if he points out that all her poems can be sung to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas."

It's much better if you do Gilligan's Island.

Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me
The carriage held but just Ourselves
And Immortality.

The mate was a mighty sailing man ...

Carl Pham said...

Pure wankery.

Ambrose said...

I was driving home this evening and heard on the classic radio station Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man." How apt.

David said...

Mid-Life Lawyer said...
Ordered the Kindle edition through your portal. Great quote. First time Gusing your portal.


Another mid life lawyer on Althouse. Jeez, what a surprise. Anyway, welcome. You are on a good path to take the Bad Proofreader First Place Trophy from me.

And I bet you're not really in the middle of your life. Do the math.

Ann Althouse said...

"Bloom claims that the old testament was written by a woman, in the Book of J."

Yes, I know, the professor said that quite enthusiastically. Almost preeningly, weirdly. I just asked why Bloom thought that, and the professor obviously had no idea. I thought the claim was pandering to feminists and that the professor thought he was getting in good with the feminists for liking the idea that a woman was important. That did not impress me.

Ann Althouse said...

I asked: Did Bloom actually believe that or was it an imagination game. What if you wanted to argue that is a woman's writing?

fivewheels said...

You know, there used to be a thing called "The Gender Genie," a program that analyzed writing and deduced whether it was a male or female writer.

The original site is down. I did find this "Gender Guesser" though.

I took some random paragraphs off the blog today, skipping anything that was a quote or had quotes in it. This is what it had for Althouse:

Genre: Informal
Female = 1004
Male = 1468
Difference = 464; 59.38%
Verdict: Weak MALE

Weak emphasis could indicate European.

rhhardin said...

As I recall, the writer of the Book of J exhibited a certain crosswise thinking not typical of males.

William said...

I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Gone With the Wnd several times when I was younger. Now that I think about it, they're the only two books written by 20th century women that I've read more than once. I don't think they're especially great works of art, but they're books that create an accessible world that is fun to be a part of. I recognize the genius of Flannery O'Connor, but her world isn't much fun to hang around in. And she's a musical comedy compared to Toni Morrison and some of the others.

Mark Caplan said...

Nobody else views Bloom as an interminable windbag, continuing the typhoon of hot air where Emerson left off?

I had guessed Willa Cather.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"You know, there used to be a thing called "The Gender Genie," a program that analyzed writing and deduced whether it was a male or female writer."

Why would you need it? Very few modern female novelists can do the Cruelly Gender-Neutral Voice which is why there are so few good ones. Oddly, most of the good ones are English. More oddly still, Sarah Waters is one of the good ones.

Anonymous said...

"If pretentious, turgid and impenetrable prose is a mark of genius, then Henry James was the greatest genius evah!"

**********

Legend has it, Mark Twain (of all people!) was asked to review a James book.

His comment for the blurb:

"Once you put it down, you can't pick it up."

**********

[Captcha just forced me to ID a dosa as a burrito!!]

traditionalguy said...

Walt Whitman has them all beat. But Flannery O'Connor's talents intrigue me like the true female challenger.

Anonymous said...

"But Flannery O'Connor's talents intrigue me like the true female challenger"

Oh look, TraditionalThingy has sympathy for the (that is his) 'devil'.
"the Eucharist ...Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it." Flannery O'Connor, a catholic's catholic.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

Mid-Life Lawyer said...
"Ordered the Kindle edition through your portal. Great quote. First time Gusing your portal."

"Another mid life lawyer on Althouse. Jeez, what a surprise. Anyway, welcome. You are on a good path to take the Bad Proofreader First Place Trophy from me.

And I bet you're not really in the middle of your life. Do the math."

I suppose we won't really know if I was at the middle of my life when I hastily chose that moniker until I am not in a position to let you know. I think I came up with the Midlifelawyer name when I was 50. I finished law school at 51. It's possible I could have been at the exact mid-point of my life, I suppose, but with the fact that I had my prostate removed last year (54) and although the reports were about as good as they could be, there is a pretty good chance that some of those little cancer cells might have excaped undetected and they are silently conspiring against me now, even as I type. Speaking of type....

Don't you just hate those typos? I wish you could edit on here (you can't, can you?) but I understand why you can't (assuming you can't).

Whatevs. I am going for a run.

traditionalguy said...

@ Phil D...Catholics women are great. They have to be.

It's the male hierarchy that destroys freedom for everyone just because they can get away with using a 1500 year old spiritual protection racket for Kings left over from the rule of the Caesars.

Michael K said...

One nice thing this thread did for me was to lead me to read read the Wikipedia article on Allan Bloom as I wondered if they had any connection besides a last name. They didn't but I have decided to read more of Allan Bloom's books on literature.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

"and he ended up so bright red that I was extremely uncomfortable."

Did you cry about it?

Saint Croix said...

I like Wild Nights.

Saint Croix said...

I never liked poetry much.

But I love Dead Poets Society.

"to woo women"

cassandra lite said...

Elizabeth Bishop

dustbunny said...

I would have guessed Flannery O'Conner also, but Dickenson makes more sense as Bloom's criteria for greatness is heavily linked to their influence on other writers. Anxiety of influence is, I think, his term.

Bob R said...

It says something about me that when it said "writers" I excluded poets. I guess Cather as well. I haven't take Bloom very seriously since he wrote the WSJ editorial panning the Harry Potter books. The thesis was perfectly defensible, but the review was so badly written that it undermined the idea that one should read highbrow literature.