“That was my basic quarrel with my former mentor Northrop Frye. He thinks that evaluation has nothing to do with literary criticism. I would tell him, no, it is not true.” — Harold Bloom in an interview published over the weekend perpetuates his agon with Frye upon which he seems to have staked his reputation and legacy.
Here’s Frye in Anatomy addressing the issue of value judgments in a way that uncannily predicts where Bloom’s own criticism would eventually end up:
The first step in developing a genuine poetics is to recognize and get rid of meaningless criticism, or talking about literature in a way that cannot help to build up a systematic structure of knowledge. This includes all the sonorous nonsense that we so often find in critical generalities, reflective comments, ideological perorations, and other consequences of taking a long view of an unorganized subject. It includes all lists of the “best” novels or poems or writers, whether their particular virtue is exclusiveness or inclusiveness. It includes all casual, sentimental, and prejudiced value judgments, and all the literary chit-chat which makes the reputations of poets boom and crash in an imaginary stock exchange. (CW 22, 19)
Previous posts on Bloom here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. That’s a lot of posts, it turns out. We’ll set up a Harold Bloom category to make it easier.