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You know that dissertation you're so proud of? Well, Harold Bloom has written hundreds of 'em. This guy dashes off books like shopping lists and has edited countless anthologies. (Literally—we tried to count them, and gave up.) Bloom is one of those guys who recites half of Paradise Lost in an interview and offers the kind of critical gems that your average English professor would labor a lifetime coming up with.
But that's not the only reason this Yale professor makes an impression: he's also one of the few remaining literary critics who doesn't apologize for loving him some Western lit. While other critics are conducting all sorts of political readings and interpreting literature through postcolonial or feminist lenses, Bloom is comfy in his armchair reading Shakespeare, Dickens, and Shelley—and probably spouting out a book or two about them while he's at it.
Don't think for a second that Bloom is open to any and all Western lit. No, he'll stick to the Dead White Guys, thankyouverymuch. He has no problem sounding off about the "schlock" that is Harry Potter and Stephen King, and he'll fight you tooth and nail to defend his beloved canon.
Bloom started off studying the great Romantic poets, but he made a name for himself with a little blockbuster he published in 1973 called The Anxiety of Influence. Sound familiar? That's because the phrase has become a staple in all academic circles. And it ruffled some feathers, too, claiming that poets misread the work of those who come before them, and that this misinterpretation is necessary, artistic, and deliberate.
Enough of this high-falutin' stuff. Bloom may be a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow, but he isn't your average ivory tower scholar. He can talk about anything from politics to sex to sports. And when we say he can, we mean he does. A lot.