Uh, Bloom is an incredibly well read scholar and literary mentor to me, but he s also kind of a brat where he s analyzing what he wants to Genesis, Prophets, Songs he s brilliant and it s hard to keep up with him, but in much of the New Testament he merely glosses over the writings with palpable distaste I too am Jewish and have a detest for Paul, but that does not mean I would refuse to see Paul s literary genius, etc In short piercing in some places, lacking in others Tantalizing but by no means comprehensive.
The King James Bible Stands At The Sublime Summit Of Literature In English, Sharing The Honor Only With Shakespeare, Harold Bloom Contends In The Opening Pages Of This Illuminating Literary Tour Distilling The Insights Acquired From A Significant Portion Of His Career As A Brilliant Critic And Teacher, He Offers Readers At Last The Book He Has Been Writing All My Long Life, A Magisterial And Intimately Perceptive Reading Of The King James Bible As A Literary MasterpieceBloom Calls It An Inexplicable Wonder That A Rather Undistinguished Group Of Writers Could Bring Forth Such A Magnificent Work Of Literature, And He Credits William Tyndale As Their Fountainhead Reading The King James Bible Alongside Tyndale S Bible, The Geneva Bible, And The original Hebrew And Greek Texts, Bloom Highlights How The Translators And Editors Improved Upon Or, In Some Cases, Diminished The Earlier Versions He Invites Readers To Hear The Baroque Inventiveness In Such Sublime books As The Song Of Songs, Ecclesiastes, And Job, And Alerts Us To The Echoes Of The King James Bible In Works From The Romantic Period To The Present Day Throughout, Bloom Makes An Impassioned And Convincing Case For Reading The King James Bible As Literature, Free From Dogma And With An Appreciation Of Its Enduring Aesthetic Value As a Christian English major I was highly excited to see that some level of study has been carried out analysing the Bible as literature Alas, Bloom s superfluous commentary has minimal traction with the text and the literary analysis is neither comprehensive nor profound Further, I was mildly irritated by Bloom s comparison between Christians and people who live with Shakespeare as their god and other such unnecessary slights to some extent such subjective and biased comments mitigated theobjective analyses he DID make Still, it is nice to know that this book exists hopefully it will lead to an increase in scholarly research in this lacking area.
It was the best of books It was the worst of books The intro and section on the Old Testament were terrific and a brilliant literary commentary The section on the New Testament was mostly a theological diatribe with scant mention of a literary values Recommend skipping that portion of the work.
A curious and scintillating analysis of religious text as literary work Bloom says he s spent his whole life working on this book, and one can feel that here, comparing previous versions, and the original Hebrew, and making comparisons to other great masterworks.
A slim volume, but one dense with insights.
My guru writes a lovely appreciation of the beauty, majesty and power of the King James Bible Not the dogma, the language It s not a religious book, but his enthusiasm it may have you cracking the covers of the KJB anyway.
Harold Bloom doing close readings of the King James, Tyndale, and the Geneva As good as it gets.
In a statement delivered to the Millennial Gathering of the Writers of the New South, poet, prose writer, and editor Dave Smith spoke on the sound of Southern speech He averred that it was single and singular The way we sound the sound tells all the answers, evokes all the old mysteries, including the recognition that we are deeply and intuitively related, are in fact one thing Further, just like the King James Bible, to which he pointed as underlying that sound, Smith easily transcends any of the narrow constraints of regionalism even nationality while striving to render the compulsion to tell all of the human story and the splendidly alloyed language we have made to sound that story or, one sound sounds the sound Harold Bloom s new book on the King James Bible reinforces, if without intent and obliquely, Smith s words about its language being a racially unifying factor in the South when all else except food, of course bent under the rule of Jim Crow, i.
e apartheid Though of course Africa s musical and rhythmic traditions remain undeniable in the blues formation, its rich double brew comes also from mixture with a very different transatlantic culture Parallel, if closer geographically, the Elizabethan Jacobean English of the KJB and Shakespeare arose from the collision of Latinate French and Anglo Saxon Ted Hughes provided a perfect example in the foreword to my battered copy of the Ecco Essentials devoted to his countryman indeed, he takes two lines from MACBETH and points out how the latter quite literally translates the former The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red And read With THE SHADOW OF A GREAT ROCK, Bloom gives us a magnificent book about an evenmagnificent one, less to be discussed or critiqued than savored sentence by sentence if not line by line, again like Shakespeare, who is invoked as consistently as the translators of the KJB, which celebrated its 400th anniversary last year Bloom s recent work flares, flames, and claims a place on the shelf of anyone who cares about how words arranged on a page can possess an aural effect lasting for centuries without end, amen In the beginning was the word writing about the always prolific professor critic s THE ANATOMY OF INFLUENCE Yale University Press in the NEW YORK REVIEW OF books, Robert Pogue Harrison rightly remarks that Bloom s discussion of Shakespeare comprises this study s strongest section, if Bloom s greatest shortcoming bombast recurs in a bizarre Back to the Future moment when Blooms claims to be an influence on Shakespeare himself Influence Bloom s obsession with the subject and the agon, through which one author must wrestle then throw off his predecessor is what causes him to slouch away from Bethlehem and its mangeror perhaps that construction s blue robed manager might be theappropriate noun The late Adrienne Rich noted long ago that women tend to collaborate and extend the fabric, even the territory, by piecing our own work onto what has been handed down to us or, to use Virginia Woolf s famous words, we think back not against, or at least not after adolescence through our mothers Bloom s own measure of cloth tends to straitjacket him also when it comes to Poe, Baudelaire, and Eliot Perhaps they all seem too sickly and agon ized to be of sufficient interest, drooping from the straight seam he has always elevated, as if strung from the highest tent pole Emerson Whitman Stevens Bloom has always reserved a special antipathy for Eliot on the grounds, so to speak, of anti Semitism, and Plath has been the target of his critical vitriol because of her appropriation of Shoah imagery Other reasons suggest themselves too, however, why both poets prove too much of an agon themselves for Bloom, and perhaps Meghan O Rourke, arguably our time s best reader of Plath, has an answer that extends past her and past Eliot to their predecessors it s the grotesquerie of Plath s imagination that may be responsible for the continuing ambivalence about her Morbidity is an un American quality The great morbid writers Poe, Baudelaire, even Rimbaud wreathe themselves in a baroqueness that is farOld World than New There is no American equivalent of mal du si cle or spleen The major American poets tend toward the exuberant Whitman, Williams, Ginsberg or the coolly lyrical think of writers as different as Frost and Ashbery Even Plath s fellow poet suicide Hart Crane was a Romantic and his tortured jouissance seems quintessentially American, whereas Plath s cold disdain makes her seem foreign In some sense, Plath may not be a very American writer beneath a surface of chirpy, aspirational hopes for the life codified by magazines Plath was always somewhat detached from the world in which she was raised Our literature of disaffection tends to be the literature of melancholia POETRY, Summer 2004 That s it Eliot and Plath are un American That s why Bloom doesn t like them Surely he d disapprove also of noir, the self embalmed Miss Emily, and most other Southern oddities if that s not an ontological contradiction as well Yet I suspect these two poets would find his willful and knowing confusion of Shakespeare and God as subversively delightful as I do, precisely because it s a rare slip in which Bloom is caught being unpatriotic too.
Yet a question remains Harrison asks which God or gods Bloom wants us to contemplate the god that Shakespeare resembles is neither Virgil s providential god nor the benevolent Creator that shone so luminously in Dante s DIVINE COMEDY, but a darker, perhaps post Christian God who defects from his own creation To criticize the critic, I d argue that Harrison s post Christian God isn t a defector but a Creator who remains at an a priori distance from the manifold aspects of what He and Bloom s God is always a masculine deity had made Remove is Bloom s word, one withaccuracy because of the gap it implies, Shakespeare being, to use his own phrase, the major dealer in ellipsis among all the great writers Ellipsis Though word, language, sense, sound is it any wonder that the life of Shakespeare s most famous hero ends, literally, with silence, possibly the most powerful form of speech Bloom s own favorite book of the Bible is Jonah Wouldn t the quiet but for the churn of whale guts drowning out the noise of his own voice of such an enclosure unnerve Bloom utterly Only momentarily I ve heard him reciteof the KJB alone than any man other than Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
, though its cadences continue to sound the sound in the poetry most deeply embedded not only in my ears, but my very body I am once again grateful to Ivan C Lett at Yale University Press also to David Lehman s BEST AMERICAN POETRY site, whence I learned of The Shadow of a Great Rock s imminent publication, and, of course, to Dave Smith For further reading, see Lehman s original BAP essay and a spirited defense by the late and infamously atheistic Christopher Hitchens.
Bloom knows the Bible much better than most people who profess to believe it, but he doesn t believe it a bit he is, as he says in the introduction, desperately secular Yet he thinks that the English Bible has much of what is most important and even genuinely beautiful in all of literary history, and so this is his book about how to read a book you don t believe which is trying to get you to believe things you don t believe, taking into account what it wants you to believe only as data while appreciating it as poetry or novel or folk tale What that looks like in practice is an annotated greatest hits of thememorable parts of the King James, together with lots of quoting, commentary on the original Hebrew and Greek, and the interplay between Tyndale, the Geneva translation, and the Authorized Version And a bunch of asides in which Bloom consistently reads the Bible against the grain, for instance when he sides with the strange woman in Proverbs against the book s author It makes for lively reading and should be on your shelf if you re either interested in Literature as such or in being able to talk to educated nonbelievers about the Bible as such.