The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages

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The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages
The Western Canon.png
Cover of the first edition
AuthorHarold Bloom
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SubjectWestern canon
PublisherHarcourt Brace
Publication date
1994
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages578
ISBN978-1-57322-514-4

The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages is a 1994 book about western literature by the critic Harold Bloom, in which the author defends the concept of the Western canon by discussing 26 writers whom he sees as central to the canon.

Summary[edit]

Bloom defends the concept of the Western canon by discussing 26 writers whom he sees as central to the canon:[1][2]

  1. William Shakespeare
  2. Dante Alighieri
  3. Geoffrey Chaucer
  4. Miguel de Cervantes
  5. Michel de Montaigne
  6. Molière
  7. John Milton
  8. Samuel Johnson
  9. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  10. William Wordsworth
  11. Jane Austen
  12. Walt Whitman
  13. Emily Dickinson
  14. Charles Dickens
  15. George Eliot
  16. Leo Tolstoy
  17. Henrik Ibsen
  18. Sigmund Freud
  19. Marcel Proust
  20. James Joyce
  21. Virginia Woolf
  22. Franz Kafka
  23. Jorge Luis Borges
  24. Pablo Neruda
  25. Fernando Pessoa
  26. Samuel Beckett

Bloom argues against what he calls the "School of Resentment", which includes feminist literary criticism, Marxist literary criticism, Lacanians, New Historicism, Deconstructionists, and semioticians. The Western Canon includes four appendices listing works that Bloom at the time considered canonical, stretching from earliest scriptures to Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Bloom later disowned the list, saying that it was written at his editor's insistence and distracted from the book's intention.[3]

Reception[edit]

Norman Fruman of the New York Times wrote that "The Western Canon is a heroically brave, formidably learned and often unbearably sad response to the present state of the humanities".[4]

The novelist A. S. Byatt wrote:

Bloom's canon is in many ways mine. It consists of those writers all other writers have to know and by whom they measure themselves. A culture's canon is an evolving consensus of individual canons. Canonical writers changed the medium, the language they were working in. People who merely describe what is happening now don't last. Mine includes writers I don't necessarily like. D. H. Lawrence, though I hate him in a way, Jane Austen, too.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harold Bloom, The Western Canon, 1994, p. 2
  2. ^ Tucker, Ken (21 October 1994). "Book Review: 'The Western Canon: The Books and the School of the Ages'; Books". EW.com. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
  3. ^ Pearson, James. "Harold Bloom [Interview]". Vice Magazine. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  4. ^ Fruman, Norman (9 October 1994). "Bloom at Thermopylae". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Lawrence, Tim; Guttridge, Peter. "Reloading the ancient canon". The Independent (London). 21 November 1994.

External links[edit]