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The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry [Paperback]

Harold Bloom
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 July 1997
Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence, an insightful study of Romantic poets and the relation between tradition and the individual artist, has sold over 17,000 copies in paperback since 1984 and remains a central work of criticism for students of literature. For the second edition, Bloom offers a new introduction which explains the genesis of his thinking and the subsequent influence of the book on literary criticism of the past twenty years.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; 2 edition (3 July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195112210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195112214
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 1.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 191,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Authors

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Product Description


From reviews of the first edition "Bloom has helped to make the study of Romantic poetry as intellectually and spiritually challenging a branch of literary studies as one may find."--The New York Times Book Review"This book will assuredly come to be valued as a major twentieth-century statement on the subject of tradition and individual talent."--David J. Gordon, The Yale Review

About the Author

Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University and Berg Professor of English at New York University. He is the author of numerous publications including A Map of Misreading, Yeats, The Book of J, The American Religion, The Western Canon, and Omens of the Millennium.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Shelley speculated that poets of all ages contributed to one Great Poem perpetually in progress. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Undeservedly well-known 21 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is certainly not a book for the general reader, as it goes out of its way to use specialist terms which it makes no effort to define in an accessible way. The basic idea is that every poet is competing with a predecessor and that in modern western poetry, there's so little room left for insight that the poet can only "misread" - it's all been said (mostly by Shakespeare) and the modern poet is fighting against the death of the western poetic tradition by a "strong misreading". This is, perhaps, an interesting premise, but Bloom's style is the ultimate in pretentiousness and obscurantism - the sort of writing that gives criticism a bad name. Though the title of this book is often used as a nice catchphrase, the book itself has had less influence than its fame would suggest, basically because the theory, where it is intelligible, is unworkable. In fact, the ideas are childishly simplistic, and that may be why Bloom felt the need of using a sophisticated and often impenetrable jargon.

In fairness to Bloom, in his later work he has toned down his defensive jargonism, and his recent The Anatomy of Influence (2011) takes the same theme as this book but doesn't bother pretending it has a unifying theory behind it, and is much the better for it. That book is a decent read, and plays to Bloom's strength, which is basically his genuine enthusiasm for the subject of poetry. Anxiety of Influence, though, is a book with no substance and no system, but written so that it takes several readings to actually realize this.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me 14 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An example of over-engineering. Take a poem, chuck out the essence and chew on what's left. Not my idea of a good time.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More poetry than prose. 1 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Prof. Bloom writes in a very difficult style and his conceptual leaps are sometimes difficult to follow. But if you love great poetry, it is certainly worth struggling against his erudition to find what lies beneath, a true love of language.
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