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Anxiety of Influence Author Dies at 89

Eminent critic Harold Bloom was still teaching days ago
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 15, 2019 12:11 AM CDT
Bloom delivers a lecture on Shakespeare in 2012.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – Harold Bloom, the eminent critic and Yale professor whose seminal The Anxiety of Influence and melancholy regard for literature's old masters made him a popular author and standard-bearer of Western civilization amid modern trends, died Monday at age 89. Bloom's wife, Jeanne, said that he had been in failing health, although he continued to write books and was teaching as recently as last week. Bloom wrote more than 20 books and prided himself on making scholarly topics accessible to the general reader, the AP reports. Bloom, a member of the Yale English Department since 1955, appeared on best-seller lists with such works as The Western Canon and The Book of J, was a guest on Good Morning America and other programs, and was a National Book Award finalist.

The youngest of five children, he was born in the Bronx in 1930 to Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Russia, neither of whom ever learned to read English. He graduated in 1951 from Cornell University and lived abroad as a Fulbright Scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge. In the '50s, he opposed the rigid classicism of Eliot. But over the following decades, Bloom condemned Afrocentrism, feminism, Marxism, and other movements he placed in the "School of Resentment." A proud elitist, he disliked the Harry Potter books and was angered by Stephen King's receiving an honorary National Book Award. "I am your true Marxist critic," he once wrote, "following Groucho rather than Karl, and take as my motto Groucho's grand admonition, 'Whatever it is, I'm against it.'"

(Read more literary criticism stories.)

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