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Customer Review

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Undeservedly well-known, 21 May 2012
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This review is from: The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry (Paperback)
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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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 May 2012 11:22:45 BDT
Jack Wonder says:
I agree with every word you've said! And I congratulate you on your courage and integrity to declare that, ultimately, the emperor has no clothes!
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