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The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry, 2nd Edition
By Harold Bloom
Oxford University Press | Pub. Date: 1997-04-10 | ISBN: 0195112210 | 208 pages | RARed PDF | 5.7 MB

Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence has cast its long shadow of influence since it was first published in 1973. Through an insightful study of Romantic poets, Bloom puts forth his central vision of the relations between tradition and the individual artist. His argument that all literary texts are a strong misreading of thise that precede them had an enormous impact on the practice of deconstruction and poststructuralist literary theory. The book remains a central work of criticism for all students of literature.

Written in a moving personal style, anchored by concrete examples, and memorable quotes, this second edition of Bloom's classic work maintains that the anxiety of influence cannot be evaded--neither by poets nor by responsible readers and critics. A new Introduction, centering upon Shakespeare and Marlowe, explains the genesis of Bloom's thinking, and the subsequent influence of the book on literary criticism of the past twenty years Here, Bloom asserts that the anxiety of influence comes out of a complex act of strong misreading, a creative interpretation he calls "poetic misprision." The influence-anxiety does not su much concern the forerunner but rather is an anxiety achieved in and by the story, novel, play, poem, or essay. In other words, without Keats's reading of Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth, we could not have Keats's odes and sonnets and his two Hyperions.

This new edition is certain to find a responsive audience among the new generation of scholars, students, and layreaders interested in the Bloom canon.


Summary: A Good Interesting Hypothesis of Literary Creation
Rating: 4

Probably one of the most important&influential writings of the late 20th. A very interesting hypothesis concerning the mystery of literary creation. Like Bukowski says: . `. . . if a writer ever discovered the reason he writes, he would cease to write.' Yup. I don't really dig psychology or analysis of that sort but this book does raise some interesting questions regarding past writers & why they wrote the way they did. Of course I am immune to this kind of anxiety, just like I'm immune to American television, especially the `news.' If you dig this kind of thing, check out Chomsky's stuff, a little overboard at times, but `Manufacturing Consent' will give you plenty to mull over.
Ever wonder why domestic TV news in the states is obsessed w/ crime stories `elderly woman assaulted & robbed in front of apartment last night . . .' instead of real news? The more paranoid people are, the less they're likely to commune. This makes each individual a ripe & ready consumer. Instead of going over to the neighbor's house to borrow some butter to bake a cake, returning a few hours later w/ a couple slices in return, you don't know the first names of the people living next to you & buy everything you need in tidy little individual (for the single or divorced) or family-sized (for the single-mother w/ kids) packs at the supermarket or Costco. That's America for you, `Land of Free.' Yeah right . . .


Summary: philosophy of influence in poetry and the arts
Rating: 3

David Bloom is probably the leading proponent of literary influence theory, and his thoughts have even spilled over into other arts (specifically into music -- see Mark Evan Bonds's AFTER BEETHOVEN and Joseph Straus's REMAKING THE PAST, for example); but his four books on influence are esoteric, to say the least. References require such a vast knowledge of poetry, literature, mythology, et al that his writings are beyond the casual reader. If you want to sink your teeth into something substantial, even controversial, start here!

Summary: Ignore the hysterical detractors
Rating: 5

People such as Camper-Mann simply don't understand Bloom's ground-breaking book. It is not a typical academic piece of theorizing. Bloom begins with his own aesthetic responses, and discovers that writers who came later in a tradition have a real difficulty finding an original vision or creating original work. Bloom then tries to work out a theory to account for this.

At no point does Bloom suggest that a deterministic process is at work here. The great poets defy determinism and struggle against it. It was not pre-ordained that John Milton would appear in the 2nd generation after Shakespeare. Milton's own creative will carved out a place for him among the great poets. However, Milton appeared after the greatest poet in the language, and his attempt to stand up to the Shakespearean achievement had a massive impact on his poetry. In the same way, Wordsworth and Shelley wrote differently for having read and absorbed Milton. These are historical facts that Bloom tries to account for.

As for T.S. Eliot, he was profoundly influenced by Walt Whitman's poetry, but turned back to Christian ideas in a way that Whitman and other modern poets had refused to do. That is what's wrong with Eliot's work. Christianity is not a very profound source for poetic inspiration in the modern age.

Summary: Yes and no
Rating: 5

Yes Bloom is a great and inspiring critic, a great creator himself. Yes, Bloom's work is filled with tremendously interesting insights into Literature,remarkable unexpected connections between creators who seemed so distant from each other.
No, Literature does not follow the simple law of progression, or the simple Law of a creator's strong reaction to the strong creators before. There are figures in Literature who in some way seem to be reacting to no one( Hopkins is one good example) and figures whose whole discourse is in absorbing the creation of others not to transcend them but to celebrate them.( Borges) There are also creators who however they may be influenced by others, as Kafka was influenced by Dickens and perhaps Kierkegaard, have such a unique way of seeing the world that they seem to be born of themselves. In Literature it is not necessary always to stand on the shoulders of Giants much less knock the Giant down if one is to move forward.
The laws of literary creation are as mysterious and individual as the next new voice which comes to the world. Quixote may over- ride the romantic chivalrous literature Cervantes parodies but he does this in a comically humane way that no one before or since has or could surpass.

Summary: Greater than, you know? a book for people who read poetry.
Rating: 5

I have previously described myself in a review as the most spaced-out poet on the planet, without describing the awful legal context in which such a view of myself is absolutely necessary. This book makes the context clear, but a general reader still might not understand how concrete this difficulty is because THE ANXIETY OF INFLUENCE is overtly a book about poetry, and hardly at all about exercising judgment. The page of the book where I left it open the longest, and where the book subsequently opened most easily, and which I read most often in the five weeks in which I was interested in this book, was page 58, which describes a poet who "experiences anxiety necessarily towards any danger that might end him as a poet." Without dwelling on the personalities of the people involved, it seems to me that the anxiety which this book is about is clearest in the case of the presidential election of 2000, in which the ability of the Florida Supreme Court to act as the ultimate judges of that opportunity to count ballots was subject to the power of the United States Supreme Court to judge the election in some way which would produce a result which would be opposite to what a majority of the Florida Supreme Court desired. (...)and poets can be much more open about what they are doing than judges, so it isn't too surprising that this book is about poets.

Freud and Nietzsche form a nice frame of reference for what is happening in this book. I kept looking for mentions of Rilke, which wasn't fruitful until page 99, the first page on "Daemonization or The Counter-Sublime." There it says, "History, to Rilke, was the index of men born too soon, but as a strong poet Rilke would not let himself know that art is the index of men born too late. . . . the dialectic between art and art, or what Rank was to call the artist's struggle against art . . . governed even Rilke, who outlasted most of his blocking agents, for in him the revisionary ratio of daemonization was stronger than in any other poet of our century." There is a page just before page 99 which quotes Emerson on the highest truth about all things going well, "long intervals of time, years, centuries, are of no account." (p. 98). Emerson shows up again on page 138, with the idea, "Who seem to die live," to precede the final section of the book, "Apophrates or The Return of the Dead." This part doesn't relate well to law, particularly for a system which keeps thinking that a judgment like the death penalty might be considered final at some point.

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