Harold Bloom (1930) was born in New York City, earned his B.A. at Cornell, received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1955, and has been a member of the Yale faculty since then. Bloom's theories of poetic misprision and anxiety have changed how critics think about literary tradition. After shaking up traditional notions of literary history in his "revision" tetralogy, Bloom defended the objects of traditional history in The Western Canon (1994).
Then he turned to studying the Bible and religion. In The Book of J (1990), Bloom identifies the author of the J-text, the oldest strand of narrative in Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers, as a woman. The book has sold millions of copies but has been scorned by biblical scholars, less for its wild speculations than its defective understanding of Hebrew text. Bloom's latest pronouncements on religion are contained in The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation (1992) and Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection (1996).
Beginning with The Book of J in 1990, Bloom began a series of miscellaneous works that reached out to a more popular audience. The publicity surrounding The Western Canon turned him into something of a celebrity. His critical work is often associated with Camille Paglia's.
The latter formulation enabled Bloom to "transume" deconstruction and the work of his colleagues in the Yale school as a belated reading of his own criticism. Bloom having become earlier than the latest form of postmodernity, other forms of postmodernist criticism perforce repress his critical contemporaneity. Having thus become both contemporaneous and anterior, Bloom returned in Ruin the Sacred Truths (1989) to his original topic, the poetic imagination. Having interpreted the entire post-Enlightenment tradition, from Blake and the Romantics to Franz Kafka and Freud, as a process akin to the secondary repression of primary drives, Bloom went on to a new project that entailed the construction of a critical medium capable of enabling the return of these primary sources. The Hebrew Bible, Homer, Shakespeare, and Milton, Bloom explained, constituted modes of representations out ahead of any interpretive power to contain them and therefore predicted Blake's theory of the Imagination and Freud's theory of repression as more or less equivalent gestures of interpretive accommodation.
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