Cover art for The Western Canon

The Western Canon

2 ratings

Summary

Harold Bloom explores our Western literary tradition by concentrating on the works of twenty-six authors central to the Canon. He argues against ideology in literary criticism; he laments the loss of intellectual and aesthetic standards; he deplores multiculturalism, Marxism, feminism, neoconservatism, Afrocentrism, and the New Historicism. Insisting instead upon "the autonomy of aesthetic," Bloom places Shakespeare at the center of the Western Canon. Shakespeare has become the touchstone for all writers who come before and after him, whether playwrights, poets, or storytellers. In the creation of character, Bloom maintains, Shakespeare has no true precursor and has left no one after him untouched. Milton, Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Ibsen, Joyce, and Beckett were all indebted to him; Tolstoy and Freud rebelled against him; and while Dante, Wordsworth, Austen, Dickens, Whitman, Dickinson, Proust, and the modern Hispanic and Portuguese writers Borges, Neruda, and Pessoa are exquisite examples of how canonical writing is born of an originality fused with tradition. Listen to a conversation with Harold Bloom.

©1994 by Harold Bloom (P)1997 by Blackstone Audiobooks

Narrator: James Armstrong
Author: Harold Bloom
Length: 22 hrs and 4 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Ruin the Sacred Truths

Ruin the Sacred Truths

1 rating

Summary

Harold Bloom surveys with majestic view the literature of the West from the Old Testament to Samuel Beckett. He provocatively rereads the Yahwist (or "J") writer, Jeremiah, Job, Jonah, the Illiad, the Aeneid, Dante's Divine Comedy, Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, the Henry IV plays, Paradise Lost, Blake's Milton, Wordsworth's Prelude, and works by Freud, Kafka, and Beckett. In so doing, he uncovers the truth that all our attempts to call any strong work more sacred than another are merely political and social formulations. This is criticism at its best. This book is published by Harvard University Press.

©1989 Harold Bloom (P)2010 Redwood Audiobooks

Narrator: Mort Crim
Author: Harold Bloom
Length: 7 hrs and 11 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Lear

Lear

1 rating

Summary

King Lear is perhaps the most poignant character in literature. The aged, abused monarch is at once the consummate figure of authority and the classic example of the fall from majesty. He is widely agreed to be William Shakespeare's most moving, tragic hero.   Award-winning writer and beloved professor Harold Bloom writes about Lear with wisdom, joy, exuberance, and compassion. He also explores his own personal relationship to the character: Just as we encounter one Emma Bovary or Hamlet when we are 17 and another when we are 40, Bloom writes about his shifting understanding - over the course of his own lifetime - of Lear, so that this audiobook also explores an extraordinarily moving argument for literature as a path to and a measure of our humanity.   Bloom is mesmerizing in the classroom, wrestling with the often tragic choices Shakespeare's characters make. He delivers that kind of exhilarating intimacy, pathos, and clarity in Lear.

©2018 Harold Bloom (P)2019 HighBridge Company

Narrator: Simon Vance
Author: Harold Bloom
Length: 3 hrs and 28 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Iago

Iago

1 rating

Summary

In all of literature, few antagonists have displayed the ruthless cunning and unscrupulous deceit of Iago, the antagonist to Othello. Often described as Machiavellian, Iago is a fascinating psychological specimen: at once a shrewd expert of the human mind and yet, himself a deeply troubled man.  One of Shakespeare's most provocative and culturally relevant plays, Othello is widely studied for its complex and enduring themes of race and racism, love, trust, betrayal, and repentance. It remains widely performed across professional and community theater alike and has been the source for many film and literary adaptations. Now award-winning writer and beloved professor Harold Bloom investigates Iago's motives and unthinkable actions with razor-sharp insight, agility, and compassion. Why and how does Iago use fake news to destroy Othello and several other characters in his path? What can Othello tell us about racism?  Bloom is mesmerizing in the classroom, treating Shakespeare's characters like people he has known all his life. He writes about his shifting understanding - over the course of his own lifetime - of this endlessly compelling figure, so that Iago also becomes an extraordinarily moving argument for literature as a path to and a measure of our humanity. This is a provocative study for our time.

©2018 Harold Bloom (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Narrator: Simon Vance
Author: Harold Bloom
Length: 3 hrs and 3 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for How To Read and Why

How To Read and Why

1 rating

Summary

Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University, Berg Professor of English at New York University, and a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. He has written more than 20 books of literary criticism. From a lifetime of writing and teaching about literature, this great scholar exhorts readers to consider the pleasures and benefits of reading well. Beginning with a basic question, "Why read?" Bloom offers his thoughts on works that form the canon of great literature. Short stories, poems, novels, and plays are held up to the light of Bloom's considerable intellect. Here are the authors that bear reading again and again, including Turgenev and Tennyson, Cervantes,and Shakespeare. Harold Bloom's many honors include a MacArthur Prize, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Academy's Gold Medal for Criticism. As he shares his passion for literature, his discussion is made even more enthralling through John McDonough's warm narration.

©2000 Harold Bloom (P)2001 Recorded Books

Narrator: John McDonough
Author: Harold Bloom
Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for The Bright Book of Life

The Bright Book of Life

Summary

In his first book devoted exclusively to narrative fiction, America's most original and controversial literary critic and legendary Yale professor writes trenchantly about 52 masterworks spanning the Western tradition. Perhaps no other literary critic but Harold Bloom could - or would - undertake a project of this immensity. And certainly no other critic could bring to it the extraordinary knowledge, understanding, and insight that are the hallmark of Bloom's every book. Ranging across centuries and continents, this final book of his career gives us the inimitable critic on Don Quixote and Book of Numbers; Wuthering Heights and Absalom, Absalom; Les Miserables and Blood Meridian; Vanity Fair and Invisible Man; The Captain's Daughter and The Reef. He writes about works by Austen, Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoy, James, Conrad, Lawrence, Wolff, Le Guin, Sebald, and many more. Whether you have already read or listened to these books, or intend to, or simply care about the importance and power of fiction, Harold Bloom serves as an unparalleled guide through these 52 masterpieces of the genre.

©2020 Harold Bloom (P)2020 Random House Audio

Narrator: Stephen Mendel
Author: Harold Bloom
Length: 22 hrs
Available on Audible
Cover art for Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles

Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles

Summary

The last book written by the most famous literary critic of his generation, on the sustaining power of poetry.    This dazzling celebration of the power of poetry to sublimate death - completed weeks before Harold Bloom died - shows how literature renews life amid what Milton called a universe of death. Bloom reads as a way of taking arms against the sea of life's troubles, taking listeners on a grand tour of the poetic voices that have haunted him through a lifetime of reading. High literature, he writes, is a saving lie against time, loss of individuality, premature death. In passages of breathtaking intimacy, we see him awake late at night, reciting lines from Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Montaigne, Blake, Wordsworth, Hart Crane, Jay Wright, and many others. He feels himself edged by nothingness, uncomprehending, but still sustained by reading. Generous and clear-eyed, this is among Harold Bloom's most ambitious and most moving books.

©2020 Harold Bloom (P)2020 Recorded Books

Author: Harold Bloom
Length: 20 hrs and 2 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Macbeth: A Dagger of the Mind

Macbeth: A Dagger of the Mind

Summary

From the ambitious and mad titular character to his devilish wife Lady Macbeth to the moral and noble Banquo to the mysterious Three Witches, Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare's more brilliantly populated plays and remains among the most widely read, performed in innovative productions set in a vast array of times and locations, from Nazi Germany to Revolutionary Cuba. Macbeth is a distinguished warrior hero, who over the course of the play, transforms into a brutal, murderous villain and pays an extraordinary price for committing an evil act. A man consumed with ambition and self-doubt, Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's most vital meditations on the dangerous corners of the human imagination.  Award-winning writer and beloved professor Harold Bloom investigates Macbeth's interiority and unthinkable actions with razor-sharp insight, agility, and compassion. He also explores his own personal relationship to the character: Just as we encounter one Anna Karenina or Jay Gatsby when we are 17 and another when we are 40, Bloom writes about his shifting understanding - over the course of his own lifetime - of this endlessly compelling figure, so that the book also becomes an extraordinarily moving argument for literature as a path to and a measure of our humanity.

©2019 Harold Bloom (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Narrator: Simon Vance
Author: Harold Bloom
Length: 2 hrs and 47 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Falstaff

Falstaff

Summary

Falstaff is both a comic and tragic central protagonist in Shakespeare's three Henry plays: Henry IV; Henry IV, Part One and Henry IV, Part Two; and Henry V. He is companion to Prince Hal (the future Henry V), who loves him, goads him, teases him, indulges his vast appetites, and commits all sorts of mischief with him - some innocent, some cruel. Falstaff can be lewd, funny, careless of others, a bad creditor, an unreliable friend, and in the end, devastatingly reckless in his presumption of loyalty from the new king. Award-winning author and esteemed professor Harold Bloom examines Falstaff with the deepest compassion and sympathy and also with unerring wisdom. He uses the relationship between Falstaff and Hal to explore the devastation of severed bonds and the heartbreak of betrayal. Just as we encounter one type of Anna Karenina or Jay Gatsby when we are young adults and another when we are middle-aged, Bloom examines his own shifting understanding of Falstaff over the course of his lifetime. Ultimately we come away with a deeper appreciation of this profoundly complex character, and this "poignant work" (Publishers Weekly, starred review) as a whole becomes an extraordinarily moving argument for literature as a path to and a measure of our humanity.

©2017 Harold Bloom (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Narrator: Simon Vance
Author: Harold Bloom
Length: 3 hrs and 55 mins
Available on Audible