*The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life*

That’s the new Harold Bloom book, which has all the strengths and weakness of Harold Bloom books (I am a fan).  Excerpt:

Picasso is reputed to have said he did not care who influenced him but he did not want to influence himself.

Bloom’s books are very good for motivating rereads of classics, in this case Walter Pater, Paul Valery, Shakespeare, Hart Crane, Walt Whitman, Leopardi, and Montaigne’s essay “On Experience,” among others.  Here is a weaker passage:

I recall first reading the poem when I was thirteen, thrilling to Satan and falling in love with Eve.  In those years I fell regularly in love with fictive heroines and encountered Eve after a year of infatuation with Thomas Hardy’s heroines, particularly Eustacia Vye…and Marty South… I all but wept when Marty South cut off her long, beautiful hair, while I joined Milton and Satan in their lust for Eve’s wanton tresses.

Still, he is one of the greatest readers ever, this is probably his last major book, he truly believes in his project, and the point about prompting rereads makes this — whatever its flaws — better than almost anything else you can pick up.


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