Possessed by Memory: Book summary and reviews of Possessed by Memory by Harold Bloom

Possessed by Memory

The Inward Light of Criticism

by Harold Bloom

Possessed by Memory by Harold Bloom X
Possessed by Memory by Harold Bloom
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  • Published Apr 2019
    544 pages
    Genre: Essays

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Book Summary

In arguably his most personal and lasting book, America's most daringly original and controversial critic gives us brief, luminous readings of more than eighty texts by canonical authors - texts he has had by heart since childhood.

Gone are the polemics. Here, instead, in a memoir of sorts - an inward journey from childhood to ninety - Bloom argues elegiacally with nobody but Bloom, interested only in the influence of the mind upon itself when it absorbs the highest and most enduring imaginative literature. He offers more than eighty meditations on poems and prose that have haunted him since childhood and which he has possessed by memory: from the Psalms and Ecclesiastes to Shakespeare and Dr. Johnson; Spenser and Milton to Wordsworth and Keats; Whitman and Browning to Joyce and Proust; Tolstoy and Yeats to Delmore Schwartz and Amy Clampitt; Blake to Wallace Stevens - and so much more. And though he has written before about some of these authors, these exegeses, written in the winter of his life, are movingly informed by "the freshness of last things."

As Bloom writes movingly: "One of my concerns throughout Possessed by Memory is with the beloved dead. Most of my good friends in my generation have departed. Their voices are still in my ears. I find that they are woven into what I read. I listen not only for their voices but also for the voice I heard before the world was made. My other concern is religious, in the widest sense. For me poetry and spirituality fuse as a single entity. All my long life I have sought to isolate poetic knowledge. This also involves a knowledge of God and gods. I see imaginative literature as a kind of theurgy in which the divine is summoned, maintained, and augmented."

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. These essays reveal a deeply personal attachment and fresh perspective. An eloquent and erudite rereading of the author's beloved works." - Kirkus

"A rich lifetime of readership and scholarship can be found within the covers of this equally rich book." - Publishers Weekly

This information about Possessed by Memory was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Harold Bloom Author Biography

Harold Bloom is a Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. His more than forty books include The Anxiety of InfluenceShakespeare: The Invention of the HumanThe Western CanonThe American Religion, and The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime. He is a MacArthur Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism, the Catalonia International Prize, and Mexico's Alfonso Reyes International Prize. He lives in New Haven.

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