[[ Free kindle ]] How to Read and WhyAuthor Harold Bloom – Kairafanan.co

Because, for me, the question of how to read always leads on to the motives and uses for reading, I shall never separate the how and the why of this book s subject Harold Bloom is the great teacher of literature that I never had but then of course I do have his books His publication of The Western Canon coincided with my personal desire to find a way in the world of literature I remember that the discussions in the book of the specific authors that Bloom considered central to the Western tradition were difficult for me to follow at the time, as my reading experience only encompassed less than half of them However, the sense of excitement in his discussions of Shakespeare, Cervantes, Joyce, Proust, Mann, Beckett, Borges, and so many others, amplified my own enthusiasm to readand deeper The appendix, which provided a list of thousands of books through the ages became for me a foundation and starting point for exploring literature.The smaller volume How to Read and Why was published some time later, and to me it felt like a further appendix to The Western Canon In the former work, Bloom looked at some of the greatest authors of Western culture and showed how one followed from the other, and how successive generations of authors have influenced each other In this later volume, he looks at the different forms of literature the short story, poetry, the novel and the play and within each section he explores a number of authors that he sees as eminent and original Rather than providing answers to the questions of the book s title the How to and the Why of reading Bloom appears to say that these questions are for each reader to answer In discussing the various authors in this book, Bloom often returns to the Why How to like a refrain or mantra Why we read, and How to read, are the central questions any reader asks him or herself in relation to any book Bloom provides his answers, but the answers in the end must to a large extent be personal and relative to the specific story, poem or play.Great teachers become what they teach, and what they teach become them This is my experience The great teachers that I have had the privilege to experience taught me to ask questions, rather than provide answers They also in a sense taught themselves I would consider Bloom one of my teachers in absentia , as his books have infected me with the ambition to read , and read wider and deeper, than I would probably otherwise have done.In the end, what Bloom then offers here amounts to an opportunity for us to read along with him for a few hours We read some of the works that have mattered to him in his reading life, and along with Bloom we ask those eternal questions, and we of course hear his answers For me personally, there need be no greater reason to read this book, because to me the prospect of reading great books along with Bloom is a wonderful proposition. Mega Yale lit critic Harold Bloom is an intelligent reader with a love for good literature, which I admire I enjoyed his enjoyment of reading, his philosophy of reading, and message on the importance of solitary reading reading quality lit., all of which will positively influence the way that I approach reading, and I am very grateful for it This said, I had just a few issues 1 I feel that the book isof a personal work for him it slike I m Really Old 69 when this book was published and Here s What I Think Is the Best Out of What I ve Read Along With Some of My Reflections On It, An Essay On Why I Think You Should Read In General I.e it mostly his commentary on what he considers to be the best literature It s like his own special anthology, all with insightful but rather aimless annotations They claim to be united by the purpose of showing us how to read, but they don t really do that So I would ve felt better had he fulfilled the purpose that he professes with the title intro 2 Given that this is essentially a personal anthology while proclaiming larger purposes in its intro , it clearly favors Bloom s area of total expertise, which is the Western canon He even wrote a book called, The Western Canon Which I should prolly check out Sometimes he ll make big statements such as Best Novel Ever and Best African American Novel He always tells us when he has chosen books that are his favorites, but at the same time he kinda blurs my favorite with the absolute best of this author Another thing is that he irritatingly endlessly exalts Shakespeare, who is named referenced in every chapter multiple times, and other people s stuff had to be described as Shakespearean, as if Shakespeare invented literature This book could also in part be Random Comments About How Shakespeare Is Related To Any Literature You Will Ever Read These things aside, I m glad that I spent time with this book I will for sure use his list as a guide for future reading. I thoroughly enjoyed this book I enjoyed it not as a didactic exposition of reading and its values, which it is not, but as an example of how works of literature might be read and what profit there is in reading good works of literature well Having read a number of Bloom s works and several reviews of this present book, I knew at the onset that its title may seem misleading Yes, it is true that in his Prologue Bloom articulates five principles or suggestions or general observations about reading 1 Clear your mind of cant.2 Do not attempt to improve your neighbor or your neighborhood by what or how you read.3 A scholar is a candle which the love and desire of all men will light.4 One must be an inventor to read well.5 Recovery of the ironic.When I have read Bloom in the past I have often found him to be provocative, at times obscure, usually opinionated, frequently frustrating, rarely what I would consider objective But at my age, viewing the lengthening list of books I d like to read in light of decreasing years I have available in which to read them, I am fast coming to the conclusion that it is less productive to read authors with whom I agree, authors who will reinforce my own opinions, convictions, and biases, than it is to read those that will challenge and surprise me, who may change my views, who at the least will set me thinking even if my views remain unchanged And I also find myself somewhat less interested in the nature of the arguments an author like Bloom makes than I am interested in his providing me with writers to read with whom I m unfamiliar In addition, I always enjoy Bloom s prose in and of itself So I approached this book as if entering into a conversation, even if I suspected that the conversation might be rambling, nonlinear, sometimes outrageous, frequently fun and at other times less satisfying What conversation is ever entirely consistent Thus my expectations were modest, my approach open minded.The first part of Bloom s book deals with short stories, and he elaborates on some of his favorites I found some that were new to me and that I would enjoy reading I have also read many of those he discusses, and reading about those was evenenjoyable in that I could engage in conversation with him about them Sometimes we agree, and sometimes we do not, and always the discussion is a pleasure It is fun to watch Bloom display flaunt his erudition, and often beneath his near pomposity is an impishness that redeems his writing from being merely annoying Every page, nearly every paragraph yields an observation or a judgment worth being underlined, worth ruminating upon.The same can be said regarding his review of and comments about many works of poetry and their authors This section is wide ranging and not arranged chronologically, and because he proceeds topically it is easier for the reader to follow his insights when he compares and contrasts poets whom at first blush might not seem to be related Included are long works as well as short lyrics, epics by acknowledged masters as well as simple anonymous ballads, and Bloom s examples of close reading are a challenge and stimulus for the reader of this book to try to read likewise I love poetry, spending time every day reading it, and this section introduced me to new works even as it tempted me to reread those many works I already know Bloom also makes a special plea for the memorization of poetry, something we did in school when I was young and something that seems little emphasized today Many of those poems that I memorized then stick with me now,than a century later, deeply enriching my life and experience.Bloom moves on to a discussion of the novel, starting with what he asserts is the most outstanding novel in history, Don Quixote If his conclusion may be open to some debate, his analysis and insights are interesting and useful He then takes up Stendhal s The Charterhouse of Parma, an intriguing choice and a novel that I must reread, Bloom s comments proving to be tantalizing Austen s Emma, one of my favorites, isfamiliar ground, and I find no grounds for argument here He goes on to discuss a number of other novels, his discussions replete with trenchant, interesting, and entertaining observations and opinions Dickens Great Expectations, Dostoevsky s Crime and Punishment, James The Portrait of a Lady, Proust s In Search of Lost Time, Mann s The Magic Mountain I would not have missed these comments for the world How can one resist such bon mots as these Rereading old books, as William Hazlitt recommended, is the highest form of literary pleasure, and instructs you in what is deepest in your own yearnings About Great Expectations The novel s appeal to our childlike need for love, and recovery of self, is nearly irresistible The why of reading is then self evident to go home again, to heal our pain How to read a novel Lovingly, if it shows itself capable of accommodating one s love and jealously, because it can become the image of one s limitations in time and space, and yet can give the Proustian blessing oflife Then Bloom moves to drama His extensive exploration of Hamlet is one of the most interesting and incisive that I have read, sending me to long periods of pondering before I moved on to his second discussion, a study of Ibsen s Hedda Gabler Bloom asserts that the Hamlet of the first four acts is balked by his father s ghost by the prince s partial and troubled internalization of his father s spirit In Act 5, that Ghost has been exorcized Might not the same argument be made about Oedipus, and might not this issue be nearly universal Bloom, in his comments and questions, like Shakespeare in his play, turns the reader about such that he finds himself reading himself, probing his own life And what can bevaluable than that Regarding Ibsen s work, Bloom states, How to read Hedda Gabler is a training in how to read most post Ibsenite drama And he provides a detailed and engrossing explication of this play before turning to Wilde s The Importance of Being Earnest, one of the most comic and delightful plays written in English and an example of what Bloom calls Nonsense literature.Finally, Bloom returns to an examination of novels, this time American novels, turning first to Moby Dick with a specific discussion of Ahab that is enlightening He works his way through incisive and often spell binding explorations of Faulkner s As I Lay Dying, Nathanael West s Miss Lonelyhearts for me, an unexpected choice , Pynchon s The Crying of Lot 49, Cormac McCarthy s Blood Meridian, Ellison s Invisible Man, and Toni Morrison s Song of Solomon His reasons for choosing each of these is almost as interesting as his discussions themselves.Bloom concludes with a curious and moving epilogue that puts reading and the reasons for reading in the context of a life journey, in the frame of seeking, of encountering, of a fecund receptivity I found this book unexpectedly rich It was all that I had hoped for and farthan I had feared, not only a mesmerizing experience in itself but an invitation to further reading with greater skill and awareness I enjoyed spending time in conversation with this erudite and perceptive scholar and thinker. Really dull and pedantic view of literature, IMO On the one hand, it purports to explain why one should read I ll save you the time and money read for enjoyment On the other hand, it contains many references to literature that it makes almost no sense to read it unless you have already read the copious books Prof Bloom makes reference to All of this begs the question To whom is this book targeted I humbly suggest To no one in particular.As someone who posits that literature should be read for pleasure, this book is full of draconian rules of pleasure I think ahonest title for the book would be How I Read and Why.I can only hope this rather late work is not representative of what the good Professor is all about I was quite inclined to like him. i love harold bloom i just read all his stuff i had to stop reading this one, though, because, essentially, you have to ve read everything that bloom s read to appreciate it, and i m not quite yet that old it really should be entitled how to reread and why , cause the book is one ginormous spoiler he really really really loves shakespeare, too, and he doesn t let ye forget it i ll come back to it in some years he s still a great writer. Before getting this book from the library, I had heard of Harold Bloom, but I had never read any of his books Most of what I d heard was positive so I was really looking forward to reading How to Read and Why.But, alas, I was not prepared for Bloom s massive erudition, and his prologue pretty much finished me off Consider, for example, this sample from page 23 of the Scribner edition, Value, in literature as in life, has much to do with the idiosyncratic, with the excess by which meaning gets started It is not accidental that historicists critics who believe all of us to be overdetermined by societal history should also regard literary characters as marks upon a page, and nothingHamlet is not even a case history if our thoughts are not at all our own This, and much else in the prologue, makes no sense to me I m confident this is because of my ignorance and view this as a loss on my part Since much of what he writes makes no sense to me, further reading of the book seems rather pointless, so this is one of the very few books I ve started and not completed If you, reader of this review, can make sense of the quote above, you will perhaps gain much by reading the book.As for me, never having confronted Shakespeare s King Lear with or without ideological expectations, I must be cognitively as well as aesthetically defrauded pg 23 again Since I m now 72 years old, it is unlikely I will ever recover from this tragedy.I do have one observation based on my reading of the prologue It seems curious to me that Bloom, who seems to put so much value on having thoughts at all our own , relies so heavily on the thoughts of others It s almost as though he wants his readers to be totally aware that he is in line with his heros, Bacon, Johnson, and Emerson Perhaps this is just an example of the Biblical claim that there is no new thing under the sun. Bloom is a mathematician of literature He sees things so clearly and makes such beautiful sense ofIt all An amazing book about books the Cannon particularly. I don t think Harold Bloom can so much as take a shit without referencing the act to Shakespeare in some way, shape or form.I understand now that he is a Shakespeare scholar, but prior to picking up this book, I had no idea I knew him to be a literary critic and scholar and therefore assumed he would be treating the topic of reading and literature to an academic analysis Really, the book should be titled How to Read Everything as an Offshoot of Shakespeare On the general topic of reading he has relatively little to say The book opens with a short essay on the experience of reading, why one should read, etc Nice, well written if exceedingly contained within his position as traditionally educated within Western culture The great bulk of the book however is a series of essays on various works Within each, usually, is a sentence or two drawing the individual piece back to his overarching theme Why read butso he elaborates on why he believes each piece to be vital to Western literature perfectly acceptable , to be engaging and beautiful again, expected and intrinsically related to Shakespeare at its very core wait, what He writes in a kind of code, drawing parallels between characters in the individual works to Shakespearean characters Rather than elaborating on characteristics of the work and how those specifically enhance one s love of reading or one s ability to read, he has created a Shakespearean shorthand that the reader must decipher before s he can glean anything beyond the superficial.A great deal is assumed of the reader This isn t for the layman who has never studied literature but has read a lot unless it s a lot of classics Do not pick this up for a bit of light reading It can be rewarding, I believe, but is not easily accessible.I found his section on poetry particularly enjoyable I do not think I would have continued reading the book if I had not met with that writing at the time that I did On plays, he shortchanges us Three are selected as compared to dozens of short stories, poems and novels What s worse, he expends all his energies on analyzing Hamlet and leaves a few paltry pages for Hedda Gabler and The Importance of Being Earnest Even worse, his commentary on Hamlet is immediately unreadable unless you are prepared, as he is, to liken Shakespeare and Hamlet to God, all knowing and wise And no, that is not hyperbole on my part If I had known what I was getting into, I would not have picked up this book Not because the writing is bad or I am offended by his opinions On the contrary, I agree with some of his reading and appreciate his assumption of a female reader I would not shun a book simply because I do not agree with some of the opinions, anyway But I am no Shakespearean scholar I enjoy Shakespeare greatly, but I do not expect him to inform every aspect of my reading life, and the theme grew tedious rather than enlightening. This is a remarkably conservative introduction to how to read and why His selection of texts is also quite conservative and illustrative of his ideological positioning What is most interesting is that he spends so much time criticising the very idea of reading from within an ideological position that he appears completely blind to the fact of his own ideology or even that it is an ideology This ideology is most clearly illuminated at the end of the book when he discusses why it is good to read his series of modern American novels with their all too apocalyptic visions that is, as a way to understand America s obsession with religion and guns.Here is a man who believes that Shakespeare not only recreated our entire language, but that he also invented the human Who believes that the point of literature is never to improve society , but rather purely for self improvement That much of literature is a kind of genealogy in which mapping the filial debts a work owes is much of the point of reading I very nearly stopped reading this a great many times Look, the book was inoffensive enough, just a bit pointless So much of the book is a retelling of the plot lines of other works better works that it made me think that I ought to be reading those books instead The two central questions in the title how to read and why to read were rarely adequately answered in relation to any of the texts analysed.The point of a lot of this book was an excuse to expound the central American myth of the individual as the only worthwhile focal point of society he says at least twice that an American is only ever truly himself when he is alone essentially, we are advised to read as this is the best means of turning our gaze inward and this reflection will allow recognition of aspects of ourselves that may not illuminate so well without the light of genius supplied by the Western canon.Don t get me wrong I think Hamlet is a much better play than say, Dead Man s Cell Phone, however, I don t think this is because Shakespeare was a god, but rather because of a series of factors that really do help Shakespeare along here, of which four centuries of critical appraisal and analysis is but one never even mentioned in this text.Although, hardly a phallic reference in any text is passed over unnoticed And for someone who sees irony as the key to understanding literature, it is interesting how rarely he points to the irony in any of the literature he discusses and how his view of irony seems nearly entirely limited to direct opposition to irony as sarcasm, or merely stating the direct opposite of what is actually believed However, irony does not need to be so limited Irony is also involved when there is a meaning understood by the audience that is not understood by the character as when Duncan in MacBeth calls MacBeth a peerless kinsman The audience knows MacBeth is about to kill Duncan and so also knows a deeper meaning to Duncan s words unknown to him This level of irony is often muchinteresting than that of mere contradiction or negation but Bloom is obsessed with negation.I found some of his genealogies a little annoying and some just plain wrong For example, he divides short stories into two traditions either Chekhovian or Borgesian and then places Calvino squarely into the Borges camp Many may well agree with this assessment but he does this on the basis of Invisible Cities But I think it would be possible to classify Calvino as a descendant of Chekhov if one were to have read Mr Palomar or Marcovaldo instead not to mention his longer short fictions such as The Baron in the Trees It is certainly the case that Difficult Loves would be hard to class with say The Castle of Crossed Destinies But honestly, do we really read so as to find such effective schemes to squeeze authors into Do we really read to draw such elaborate textual family trees It was interesting reading this at the same time as I am reading lots of Bourdieu There is a quote from the introduction to this book which says Yet the strongest, most authentic motive for deep reading of the now much abused traditional canon is the search for a difficult pleasure Bourdieu points out that difficult pleasures are one of the best means of finding distinction , of showing you belong to a particular class of people, rather than to a lesser class who are incapable of such appreciation or even of the effort required in such discernment I found this quote an interesting confirmation of Bourdieu s theory.Mostly, this book would be useful if you were studying literature and, as luck may have it, one of the works you have been set just happens to be discussed here However, the analysis provided is mostly of a retelling of the story kind that is, the kind most likely to see you fail literature and so I would only recommend this as introduction to your thinking about any of the books discussed.On its own terms that is, in providing an answer as to how and why to read I think this book comprehensively fails However, it is not devoid of interest as a work in itself and it is hard to completely dislike someone who so clearly loves so many works I too love very deeply. Information Is Endlessly Available To Us Where Shall Wisdom Be Found Is The Crucial Question With Which Renowned Literary Critic Harold Bloom Begins This Impassioned Book On The Pleasures And Benefits Of Reading Well For Than Forty Years, Bloom Has Transformed College Students Into Lifelong Readers With His Unrivaled Love For Literature Now, At A Time When Faster And Easier Electronic Media Threatens To Eclipse The Practice Of Reading, Bloom Draws On His Experience As Critic, Teacher, And Prolific Reader To Plumb The Great Books For Their Sustaining Wisdom Shedding All Polemic, Bloom Addresses The Solitary Reader, Who, He Urges, Should Read For The Purest Of All Reasons To Discover And Augment The Self His Ultimate Faith In The Restorative Power Of Literature Resonates On Every Page Of This Infinitely Rewarding And Important Book