Harold Bloom

Biography of Harold Bloom

Harold Bloom (born July 11, 1930) is an American literary critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. Since the publication of his first book in 1959, Bloom has written more than 20 books of literary criticism, several books discussing religion, and one novel. He has edited hundreds of anthologies.

Bloom teaches two classes at Yale: one on the plays of William Shakespeare; the other on poetry from Geoffrey Chaucer to Hart Crane. Some of his writing has reflected this teaching, from Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1998) to The Anatomy of Influence (2011), which he has called the summa of his career.

At the start of his career, Bloom studied the Romantic and Modernist poets, in particular Percy Bysshe Shelley, W. B. Yeats and Wallace Stevens. From this study, combined with the influence of Freud, Emerson and many others, Bloom developed theories of poetic influence, marked by the publication of The Anxiety of Influence (1973). These theories dominated his writing for a decade, after which he began to focus on what he named "religious criticism", in books such as The Book of J (1990) and The American Religion (1992). Another shift in his career began with an impassioned defense of the non-politicised teaching of canonical literature in The Western Canon (1994). He has continued his religious criticism in books such as Jesus and Yahweh (2005) and The Shadow of a Great Rock: A Literary Appreciation of The King James Bible (2011).

Frank Kermode called Bloom "probably the most celebrated literary critic in the United States"; James Wood described him as "America's best-known man of letters". His books have been translated into more than 40 languages.

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