11 ene. 2006

I gave another go at Where Shall Wisdom be Found to see if I was giving it short shrift. No. There is no substance there. The remarks feel almost like random references to other Bloom books that we should have read--the Shakespeare and the invention of the human, etc... You would have thought that the publishers would insist on an edit, at the very least.

Why Bloom has to lash out at JK Rowling is beyond me. Rowling is a perfectly good middle-brow writer for kids and adults, who expertly brings together several traditionally British genres such as school-boy novel, Dorothy Sayers mystery, and Tolkienesque fantasy. Nobody has made the claim that she's a high-brow writer who will rival Proust, but she's as good as Anthony Powell or Dorothy Sayers. Why make a dig at Stephen King? He's a good genre writer whom nobody confuses with Thomas Pynchon. Why just the other day I saw a letter to the editor at the NYTBR, making the very good point that we should read D.H. Lawrence's works to gain an understanding of his works, instead of expecting to find insight into him from reading biographies. I fuly expected the signature to be "Dan Green," since he makes this point all the time on his blog, but instead it was "Stephen King."

I could forgive Bloom his attitudes and his resentments if there were a pay-off of some kind. But no.

6 comentarios:

Stuart Greenhouse dijo...

Ever read his early critical work, like "The Visionary Company"? He's very insightful there, esp. w/Blake.

Jonathan dijo...

Tell me an insight he has had.

peter dijo...

Rowling as good as Anthony Powell? Or comparable in any useful way?
And what exactly is a "school boy" novel? I'm sure Bloom at least reads the books he writes about.

Jonathan dijo...

I don't think he has gotten through Harry Potter. He feels free to opine about that. Anyway, that's pretty faint praise for a literary critic, that he reads the books he writes about.

The best example of the "school boy novel" is Tom Brown's Schooldays.. I'm assuming it's not the only one of its type, though I can't think of others, except maybe for the first book in the Dance to Music of Time series by Anthony Powell.

Anthony Powell is a kind of middling, enjoyable novelist. I enjoy reading him. The same with Rowling. They are both writers one might pick up and enjoy, but I wouldn't make inflated claims for either. That's the basis of my comparison.

Stuart Greenhouse dijo...

The one I still remember fresh as reading it is the point he makes about "The Tyger." That the illustration is of a house cat. He says that Blake did not intend "The Tyger" to be a statement of infernal power, of some primal force opposed to sweetness and light, but rather an illustration of an unwell mind which sees fear in absurd places, places a holy (in Blake's terms) mind would only see divinity. Bloom cut his teeth and made his rep on Blake and Shelley, and he did a good job in that book, I think. I understand your disbelief given how he writes now, the lack of editorial oversight is absurd and he repeats himself incessantly, saying nothing more than me, me, me.

Jonathan dijo...

What the school boy novel really is a Bildungsroman set in a boarding school. There are British and American examples.