Friday, January 21, 2011

one hundred

Through one of those weird flow-charting progressions that only happen online, reading reviews of Franzen's The Corrections, which I now have no interest in reading, led me to this 1991 Paris Review interview with critic Harold Bloom. Yikes, what an asshole.

It's possible that I'm too dense for higher-end literary criticism, but I've never found it to be terribly useful, and have avoided it like the plague since the day I no longer had to read it for school. That criticism is full of people like Harold Bloom doesn't help matters. I don't know if he's still like this 20 years later, but literally everything he says in this interview makes him sound like an insufferable prick, whether it's lecturing his own analyst about Freud or refusing to use a computer or calling people "my dear" or sayings things like "Emerson is God." Then there's his weird, out-of-nowhere rant about the School of Resentment (i.e. socially-concerned critics) and his contention that minorities and women only get books published because of political correctness, which is both bafflingly stupid and unsubstantiated - he doesn't really explain why Alice Walker is a bad writer or why The Color Purple is a bad book, they just are because he said so, based on the authority he generated from writing about Shakespeare back when we all lived on the supercontinent.

Given that it's 2011, this is probably a stupid thing to be annoyed about, but you see a lot of this lazy conservative thinking in lit. crit. - some people just get infatuated with a "golden age" of literature (i.e. the stuff they read in their formative years) and coast on their opinions of it for their entire professional/creative lives. It's sad, really, but it does encourage me to keep searching out new writers (even if they're just new to me) and diversifying my bookshelf so I don't end up doing the same thing.

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