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Harold Bloom

Harold Bloom

Harold Bloom’s Files

Dig into the personal files of your favorite critic.

Shmoop's crack team of P.I.s has managed to recover a few pages from Harold Bloom's diary. If you think what he says in public is juicy, get ready. This is one for the books.

Monday

Dear Diary,

Have been thinking about how people will remember me when I die. Will I have had any influence on thinkers? Will they all beat a hasty retreat to The House on Mango Street and For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, and all of my work will be for naught?

When Iam tormented by such thoughts, I like to look in the mirror and watch huge tears roll down my soft plump cheeks. I can only find consolation in the words of the French essayist Montaigne—hands down one of the greatest essayists of all time—who has plenty to say about death in his Essays.

HB

Tuesday

Dear Diary,

Am stuck in the vortex of dark thoughts and despair. Just can't get over having a terrible bleeding ulcer, hemorrhaging seven pints of blood (note: look up how many pints the body actually has—7 sounds like a lot!), having a heart attack, and getting a three-way open-heart bypass surgery. (Not my kind of three-way. Know what I'm sayin?) All I could do was push on and produce copious amounts of writing through all of the suffering, so I cranked out Wisdom and Literature, which is better than what 99% of tenured professors could every hope to produce in ten life times. Then I threw it away. I just needed to get the ideas off my chest.

HB

Wednesday

Dear Diary,

Feeling a little underwhelmed by my next project. Am I not being ambitious enough? I don't want to disappoint my fans or fuel my critics. My plan is to write a study of wisdom, tracing a genealogy from (1) The Hebrew Bible (including the Book of Job and Ecclesiastes); (2) Plato, of course addressing his eternal struggle with Homer, particularly in the Republic and the Symposium; (3) then where? Michael Chricton? Seems flimsy. May do some more journaling on the subject.

HB

Thursday

Dear Diary,

Had a fight with the wife. I guess she read the GQ article and wasn't happy about the whole banana bubble bath scenario. She called me an "idiot." That really hurt. I can take my lumps, but having my intelligence insulted stings. Maybe she's right, though. Maybe my ego is too big…? Nah.

Clearly I lack some insight—though I have no idea what. The New Haven headquarters of The Chelsea House Project was like the Playboy Mansion. Ah, regrets… and nostalgia.

If I were wise, would I have to write a book called Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? I know I am not a wise man. I am not a sage. I am an aesthete, a very old-fashioned aesthete—I have been realizing that increasingly.

HB

Friday

Dear Diary,

I'm still in the adjustment period of being in a Department of One. I just could not hang with those jokers in the English Department. No regrets about divorcing them, though. I still just wish they had reappointed me as a "professor of absolutely nothing" instead of handing me this fancy Sterling-endowed chair nonsense. Am trying to keep it real. So swanky.

HB

Saturday

Dear Diary,

Came up with a new mantra: "aesthetic splendor, cognitive power, and wisdom." (I think I mentioned that somewhere in my book on Wisdom.) Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but my heart's in it for sure. Am considering branding myself—maybe Twitter? (but the character limit would be a problem—contact Jack Dorsey, by phone or snail mail), Instagram? Ooh, yeah, I'm thinking sepia-toned, vignetted photographs of me in Stratford-upon-Avon, posing as Rodin's The Thinker etc. Problem is that most of my would-be followers are dead—check on George Wilson-Knight, William Empson, Northrup Frye, Kenneth Burke, Ernst Curtius… A few ideas:

#NietzscheChestnuts: "Jedes Wort ist ein Vorurteil," or "Every word is a misjudgment."

#NietzscheChestnuts: "Anything that we are able to speak, to say or formulate, is something which is already dead in our hearts."

Sunday

Dear Diary,

Watching Sunday morning political shows is a huge downer, so I flip back and forth among Face the Nation, Meet the Press, Franklin Graham (The son of Billy Graham), and Sharon Tomlin Walker. Preach on! Thank God (or whoever) that Obama was reelected.

I once predicted all crystal-ball like that by 2020, Mormonism could be the leading faith of the western United States. Didn't happen. I guess I can't be right about everything! I am just happy to have a president who can put two words together. Ah, that poor, poor illiterate George Bush. How empty his noggin and how twisted his tongue! I usually like a more formidable target, but alas, he is so tempting. I feel like Milton's Satan sneaking up on the naïf Eve.

HB

Monday

Dear Diary,

The old insomnia is back. Rather than watching reruns of 90210, Season 1, I decided to dash off an introduction to some masterpiece of Western literature. I can't even remember which right now—The Great Gatsby? Tender is the Night? Both?) No matter. After 395 books, they all blur together. It isn't free being an academic superstar. You just don't get the swag that George Clooney gets. Have had to supplement my Yale salary somehow—and moonlighting at NYU isn't cutting it.
HB

Tuesday

Dear Diary,

People keep comparing me to Zero Mostel. I want them to see me as the beloved Falstaff. Is it weird to want to be a character from Henry IV and not an old Broadway comic? It's just so lowbrow. Falstaff is one of those characters you never forget—like Hamlet and Iago. Maybe I could work this association into my syllabus.?

I try so hard to redeem my beleaguered undergraduates. If I can keep one away from the Real Housewives and interested in King Lear, I have not lived in vain. I will never teach graduate students. They're worse than my colleagues because they are so cloyingly eager—an ugly trait. Plus, they're always asking me for letters of recommendation. Ugh. Everyone loathes me anyway. Why would someone want a letter from "the Satan of literary criticism"? It's the career "kiss of death".

Ah, the innocence of the undergraduate. Was I so wide-eyed at Cornell? I came across an old paper I wrote on Hart Crane. And while I am sure it exceeds anything written by any tenured professor at Harvard today, I still couldn't bring myself to peek. When I decide something I have written is schlock, I don't have a good chuckle over it—I pretend I've never seen it before. Like running into an ex-girlfriend at Trader Joe's.

HB

Wednesday

Dear Diary,

Had lunch with Norman Mailer today. He's so masculine. Such a man's man. Thank god there are Great White Males left! Lunch was on me because he's still a little sour over my review of Ancient Evenings. I guess he felt threatened that I listed the book's every incident of "humbuggery and bumbuggery" (source). He didn't get that I was actually very taken with the work—it's not easy to squeeze that much buggery (hetero, homosexual, what have you) into one novel. I am so happy that a 12-inch sub sandwich turned the tides for our friendship. Us smart men need to stick together.

HB

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