Quote of the Day


“I do not recall reading any literary criticism, as opposed to literary biography, until I was an undergraduate. At seventeen I purchased Northrop Frye’s study of William Blake, Fearful Symmetry, soon after its publication. What Hart Crane was to me at ten, Frye became at seventeen, an overwhelming experience. Frye’s influence on me lasted twenty years but came tumbling down on my thirty-seventh birthday, when I awakened from a nightmare and then passed the entire day in composing a dithyramb, “The Covering Cherub or Poetic Influence.” Six years later, that had evolved into The Anxiety of Influence, a book Frye rightly rejected, from his Christian Platonist stance. Now, at seventy-eight, I would not have the patience to reread anything by Frye but I possess almost all of Hart Crane by memory, recite much of it daily and continue teaching him. I came to value other contemporary critics—Empson and Kenneth Burke particularly—but have now dispensed with reading them also. Samuel Johnson, William Hazlitt, Walter Pater, Emerson, Oscar Wilde I go on reading as I do the poets.”

Harold Bloom, “The Point of View for My Work as a Critic: A Dithyramb.”  The Hopkins Review 2, no. 1 (Winter 2009), New Series: 28–48.

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2 thoughts on “Quote of the Day

  1. Trevor Losh-Johnson

    To peripherizate Ezra Pound, nothing short of divine vision or a new cure for the clap can possibly be worth dispensing with Empson or Frye. And depending on the book I might take the clap.

  2. Jonathan Allan

    I talk about this very article and indeed, I believe, this very quotation in my article “Anatomies of Influence, Anxieties of Criticism” which should appear very shortly in the Canadian Review for Comparative Literature (I read the proofs a week or two ago). It is difficult, at times, to decide just how sincere Bloom is when he is talking about Frye…since the interview with Salusinszky through to the preface to the Anatomy and now this Dithyramb, his views have changed over and over again…it is praise and then criticism.


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