1. SPS Accounts:
    Do you find yourself coming back time after time? Do you appreciate the ongoing hard work to keep this community focused and successful in its mission? Please consider supporting us by upgrading to an SPS Account. Besides the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting a good cause, you'll also get a significant number of ever-expanding perks and benefits on the site and the forums. Click here to find out more.
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
You are currently viewing Boards o' Magick as a guest, but you can register an account here. Registration is fast, easy and free. Once registered you will have access to search the forums, create and respond to threads, PM other members, upload screenshots and access many other features unavailable to guests.

BoM cultivates a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We have been aiming for quality over quantity with our forums from their inception, and believe that this distinction is truly tangible and valued by our members. We'd love to have you join us today!

(If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact us. If you've forgotten your username or password, click here.)

Harold Bloom

Discussion in 'Booktalk' started by LKD, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. LKD Gems: 31/31
    Latest gem: Rogue Stone


    Aug 13, 2002
    Likes Received:
    This thread is a natural outgrowth of the discussion generated on the Harry Potter thread about the articles that Bloom wrote. I wanted to state my opinion about Bloom.

    This guy is highly intelligent and his points on "dumbing down" of literature have merit, but I don't think he has factored in the difference between escapist fiction and literary fiction. Rowling has never claimed for one second that her books have any incredibly deep and profound insights into the human condition. She is a good storyteller who uses tropes and images that have been around for centuries to tell an engaging story. I fail to see anything horribly wrong with this, and I don't believe that it is a symptom of a decaying culture.

    He also used "The Wind in the Willows" as an example of "good" children's literature. I was forced to read that book when I took a Children's Lit class, and it was the worst book of the bunch. I hated every pretentious, affected, nauseating minute of it. Even if Graham's command of the language is better and he doesn't use cliches, I'd take Rowling over his crap any day.

    Bloom also went after Stephen King, saying that he's only a commercial success. Now, King may not be a literary giant, but some of his observations on life in America are pretty darn good, and his stories are interesting and engaging. Bloom mentioned Moby Dick, and I just tried to get through that one -- to be honest, as overwritten as it was, even though the central plot had some merit in it, it still didn't make me want to finish it. Tastes have changed -- many people don't want long drawn out descriptions or chapters of extraneous or irrelevant description anymore. That doesn't mean that literature is going down the toilet, though.

    End Rant
  2. Aikanaro Gems: 31/31
    Latest gem: Rogue Stone

    Sep 14, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I haven't read any of his stuff except for the Harry Potter rants linked in the other thread - but from that I judge that he's a pretentious dick with an extremely narrow mind.

    He seems to have this unfortunate notion that some forms of literature are objectively better than others, and has some bizarre criteria for what is and what isn't good. Doesn't seem to see how things can be good in different ways, and that some people enjoying something that he doesn't get isn't the end of the world or literacy.

    Not to mention that saying that books which encourage reading are a horribly bad thing for literacy is just an incredibly stupid thing to say.
  3. Oaz Gems: 29/31
    Latest gem: Glittering Beljuril

    Aug 21, 2001
    Likes Received:
    If I may resurrect the relatively fresh corpse of this thread--

    It is somewhat worth keeping in mind that Harold Bloom has served as professor (and head?) of Yale's English Department, and partly because of that I don't think he's talking out of his ass. Bloom has said that books like Alice in Wonderland will outlast the Harry Potter series, and I'm inclined to agree because I never seem to see anyone reading Harry Potter and then moving on to other books. I especially find it odd that there are a lot of high-school- and college-age people who are reading Harry Potter and... then watching the Harry Potter movies.

    I will argue that there are certain books (including the kind that are taught in high school and college courses) that are worth reading over other books. A lot of genre books (fantasy, romance), for example, aren't intent on providing readers with new experiences, just rehashings of ones from older books. (Exceptions exist, of course, e.g. Kurt Vonnegut's work that could be classified as sci-fi.) There's a difference between a work that only entertains you and a work that challenges you.
  4. Meatdog Gems: 15/31
    Latest gem: Waterstar

    Dec 4, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Well, I think it all depends on why and how you read. When I read a book, I usually don't see the text, not conciously anyway. I see before my mind's eye the events described by the text. As such, the level of literacy of the text is very irrelevant, since I wouldn't even notice it. That's why I consider that a bad writer is someone where the text doesn't summon any images other than the text.

    This is however tied into literature a little bit, since texts that contain constructions that bother you and detract you from the story they tell, usually are horribly written from a literature point of view. The opposite however is not true. Something can fall outside the high literature and still be considered to be good writing.

    The problem I have with Bloom is that he considers that only very literary texts are acceptable, which is a bit beside the point for the majority of people. Literature can even go too far, a work can be too literary even, if it gets to the point that it's so challenging that it fails to deliver the message behind the text. The text is only the vehicle, not the essence of the book.

    But that all depends on what you look for of course. It's like with cars, some people see the car as a way to get somewhere, others see the driving of the car itself as a full fledged activity that isn't just there to serve another goal.
Sorcerer's Place is a project run entirely by fans and for fans. Maintaining Sorcerer's Place and a stable environment for all our hosted sites requires a substantial amount of our time and funds on a regular basis, so please consider supporting us to keep the site up & running smoothly. Thank you!

Sorcerers.net is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on amazon.com, amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.