Jessica's Reviews > The Western Canon

The Western Canon by Harold Bloom
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's review
Nov 28, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: books-about-literature, extra-reading-1st-year, non-fiction, literary-criticism

The Western Canon reminded me why literature matters. I've been struggling with the intense workload of an English degree and Bloom's book was the inspiration I needed to get back to enjoying the work.

Bloom's knowledge of Western writing is vast and his writing conveys the extent to which he loves literature. Returning throughout the book to the aesthetic nature of art and forming web upon web of reasoning around Shakespeare as the centre of the canon, Bloom's expertise as a critic is inspiring and accessible.

It was a nice change to read a defence of the traditional view of literature: that true literature can have universal (or near-universal) appeal, and that its pleasure is aesthetic. I agree fully with Bloom's opinion that a political or social agenda cannot make a fine work of literature - bad literature is bad literature, whether or not it appeals to the minority of the day. Generally, if the majority of people think that something sucks, it probably does.

One thing that struck me as rather ironic was Bloom's views on God. Following a criticism of the 'School of Resentment' for attempting to devalue Shakespeare in order to advertise their own beliefs, an attempt to portray God as a savage, drunken tyrant because Bloom isn't a big fan falls rather flat.
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Reading Progress

November 25, 2011 – Started Reading
November 28, 2011 – Shelved
November 28, 2011 – Shelved as: books-about-literature
November 28, 2011 – Shelved as: extra-reading-1st-year
November 28, 2011 – Shelved as: literary-criticism
November 28, 2011 – Shelved as: non-fiction
November 28, 2011 – Finished Reading

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