Segments in this Video

Harold Bloom: Literary Critic (01:18)


Bloom has written and edited over two hundred books. Various experts in the field of literary criticism cite the importance of Bloom's contribution.

Aesthetic Merit in Literature (01:02)

Bloom discusses aesthetic merit in literature. It represents eloquence, phrasing, cognitive power, and originality.

Bloom: Literary Populist (01:12)

Upon arrival at Yale, Bloom rebelled against the established literary theory called New Criticism and advocated an approach that would address the common reader.

Bloom on Literary Canon (01:59)

Bloom sees the literary canon as a way of organizing and preserving literary masterpieces. Canonical texts are discussed.

Bloom on Irony (02:11)

Bloom considers the fundamental pillar of reading to be irony. Homer's "Odysseus" and Tennyson's "Ulysses" are used as examples.

Competing with the Dead (02:26)

Hemingway states "Good writers only compete with the dead." Bloom describes poetry as a legacy of inspiration and competition.

Romanticism and Imagination (02:15)

The work of T.S. Elliot pushes romantic poets to the periphery of literary influence. Bloom describes himself as a Romantic Revivalist.

Kabbalah and Criticism (03:29)

Bloom is described as the first American Jewish critic to incorporate his religion into criticism. He made terms that came from the Kabbalah accessible to the general public.

Literary Canon (02:02)

The literary canon is listed and organized thematically.

Shakespeare (03:01)

Bloom states Shakespeare is the only author without anxiety. Bloom credits Shakespeare's greatness with his ability to detach emotionally.

Chaucer and the Creation of Character (01:37)

Bloom describes Chaucer as the precursor to Shakespeare. Chaucer's wife of Bath is described as a contemporary of Shakespeare's character Falstaff.

Falstaff's Vocation: Meditative Characters (03:25)

Bloom lists the meditative characters of Shakespeare. He describes Falstaff as Shakespeare's most authentic character.

Milton Connection (02:53)

Milton writes a poem to Shakespeare telling him he makes humans think too deep. He compares Milton's Satan in "Paradise Lost" to Shakespeare's Iago and Hamlet.

Cervantes (03:15)

Don Quixote, often considered the first modern novel, is a classic of Western literature and is regularly regarded among the best novels ever written. His work is considered among the most important in all of literature.

Dante and the Genius of Theology (03:33)

Bloom resists the common temptation of turning Dante into an allegorist. Dante is described as an obsessive writer.

Wordsworth (01:10)

Wordsworth eliminates lyric poetry and inserts the idea of ego into his verse.

Walt Whitman (02:50)

Non-religious essentials in Wordsworth pave the way for modern poets like Walt Whitman. Loneliness of the soul is a repeated theme in Whitman's poetry. Bloom calls him a "hidden presence everywhere."

Bloom on the Twentieth Century (03:22)

According to Bloom, the adjective that describes the twentieth century is "chaotic." Modernism breaks away from normal expectations of what books should be like. Modern literature is dominated with author awareness.

Freud: Psychology as Poetry (02:27)

Bloom believes Freud owes Shakespeare a debt of gratitude. Hamlet is an example of a human psyche decomposing, one that does not have confidence in itself any more.

Borges (03:19)

The characters of Borges always find themselves in situations of indecision. It is literature talking about literature and goes on and on. Bloom describes it as an imagination that is a labyrinth.

School of Resentment (04:05)

School of Resentment is a term coined by Harold Bloom to collectively group together certain forms of critical interpretation, such as African American, Marxist, New Historicist and feminist criticism to name a few.

Reading against Death (02:26)

Bloom is attempting to write long book on the influence of literature on his life. Reading is described as an act of resisting mortality.

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Harold Bloom: Critic in the Active Voice

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From his assault on New Criticism to his salvos against the “school of resentment,” literary scholar Harold Bloom has fused an eloquent defense of the western canon with insightful analysis and a rebel’s penchant for controversy. This imaginative program, the first-ever documentary on Bloom’s far-reaching contributions to literary criticism, ushers viewers through the complex world of his writings, ideas, influences, and impact. Presenting extensive commentary from Bloom himself, the film also features detailed interviews with the renowned Sir Frank Kermode, a long-time colleague and sometime rival of Bloom’s, and The New School’s Dr. Nicholas Birns, literary critic and former student of both Bloom and Kermode. Academics who have studied Bloom’s career—including Dr. Xavier Pérez Torío of Pompeu Fabra University and Dr. Raffaele Pinto of the University of Barcelona—are also included. A Films for the Humanities & Sciences Production. (60 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL39542

ISBN: 978-1-60825-067-7

Copyright date: ©2009

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“Secondary/undergraduate instructors wanting to introduce students to Bloom’s take on literature will find much to savor here; a worthy acquisition for classroom use.”  —Library Journal

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.