Harold Bloom

Harold Bloom (born July 11, 1930) is an American literary critic, best known for defending the Western canon, which amounted to resisting the Post-Colonialism, Feminist and Multi-Culturalism movements in academic literary criticism.

Table of contents
1 Biography
2 Judgements concerning recent writers
3 Bibliography
4 Websites
5 Awards


The son of William and Paula (Lev) Bloom, Harold Bloom was born in New York City and lived there until he entered Cornell University, where he earned a B.A. in 1951. Going on to Yale University for graduate study, he received his Ph.D. in 1955 and has been a member of the Yale faculty since that time. In 1958 he married Jeanne Gould; they have two sons, Daniel Jacob and David Moses.

Bloom began his career by defending the reputations of the High Romantic poets of the early nineteenth century against neo-Christian critics influenced by such writers as T.S. Eliot.

After a personal crisis in the late sixties, Bloom became deeply interested in the ancient mystic traditions of Gnosticism, Kabbalah and Hermetism. Influenced by his reading, he began a series of books that focussed on the way in which poets struggled to create their own individual poetic visions without being overcome by the influence of the previous poets who inspired them to write. Bloom continued to write about influence theory throughout the seventies and eighties, which has crept into everything he has written since.

Beginning with The Book of J in 1990, Bloom began a series of miscellaneous works that reached out to a more popular audience. The publicity surrounding The Western Canon turned him into something of a celebrity. His critical work is often associated with Camille Paglia's.

Judgements concerning recent writers

Bloom's association with the Western canon has provoked a substantial amount of interest in his opinon concerning the relative importance of contemporary writers.

In the late 1980s, Bloom told an interviewer: "Probably the most powerful living Western writer is Samuel Beckett. He’s certainly the most authentic." Beckett died in 1989, and Bloom has not suggested who occupies that position now.

Concerning British writers: "Geoffrey Hill is the strongest British poet now active," and "no other contemporary British novelist seems to me to be of [Iris] Murdoch's eminence."

In his 2003 book, Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds, he named Portuguese writer Jose Saramago as "the most gifted novelist alive in the world today," and "one of the last titans of an expiring literary genre."

Of American novelists, he declared in 2003 "there are four living American novelists I know of who are still at work and who deserve our praise." Claiming "they write the Style of our Age, each has composed canonical works," he identified them as Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy and Don Delillo.

In Kabbalah and Criticism (1975) he identified Robert Penn Warren, James Merrill, John Ashberry and Elizabeth Bishop as the most important living American poets. By the 1990s he reguarly named A.R. Ammons along with Ashberry and Merrill, and he has lately come to identify Henri Cole as the crucial American poet of the generation following those three.


  • The Future of the Imagination. Publisher and date unknown.
  • Shelley's Mythmaking. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959.
  • The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1961. Rev. and enlarged ed. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971.
  • Blake's Apocalypse: A Study in Poetic Argument. Anchor Books: New York: Doubleday and Co., 1963.
  • Yeats. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.
  • The Ringers in the Tower: Studies in Romantic Tradition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971.
  • Poetry and Repression: Revisionism from Blake to Stevens. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976.
  • Figures of Capable Imagination. New York: Seabury Press, 1976.
  • Wallace Stevens: The Poems of our Climate. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977.
  • Deconstruction and Criticism. New York: Seabury Press, 1980.
  • The Flight to Lucifer: Gnostic Fantasy. New York: Vintage Books, 1980.
  • The Breaking of the Vessels. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.
  • The Book of J translated from the Hebrew by David Rosenberg; interpreted by Harold Bloom. New York : Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.
  • Ruin the Sacred Truths: Poetry and Belief from the Bible to the Present. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989.
  • The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
  • The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973; 2d ed., 1997.
  • A Map of Misreading. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975.
  • Kabbalah and Criticism. New York : Seabury Press, 1975.
  • Agon: Towards a Theory of Revisionism. New York : Oxford University Press, 1982.
  • The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994.
  • Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection. New York: Riverhead Books, 1996.
  • Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. New York: 1999.
  • Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages. New York: 2001.
  • How to Read and Why. New York: 2001.
  • Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds. New York: 2003.
  • Hamlet: Poem Unlimited. New York: 2003.
  • The Best Poems of the English Language: From Chaucer Through Frost. New York: 2004.



  • Fullbright fellowship, 1955
  • John Addison Porter Prize, Yale University, 1956, for Shelley's Mythmaking
  • Guggenheim fellowship, 1962-63
  • Newton Arvin Award, 1967
  • Melville Cane Award, Poetry Society of America, 1971, for Yeats
  • National Book Awards juror, 1973
  • D.H.L., Boston College, 1973
  • D.H.L., Yeshiva University, 1975
  • Zabel Prize, American Institute of Arts and Letters, 1982
  • MacArthur Prize fellowship, 1985
  • Christian Guass Award, 1988, for Ruin the Sacred Truths
  • Boston Book Review Rea Nonfiction Prize, 1995, for The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages
  • D.H.L., University of Bologna, 1997
  • D.H.L., St. Michael's College, 1998
  • National Book Award finalist, nonfiction, for Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, 1998
  • National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, criticism, for Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, 1998
  • New York Times Notable Book of the Year, for Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, 1998
  • One of Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, for Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, 1998
  • ALA/Booklist Editor's Choice, for Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, 1998
  • D.H.L., University of Rome, 1999
  • 14th Catalonia International Prize, 2002

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