I missed the most interesting story in the New York Times today until I read the hard copy of the paper this afternoon. Yale Professor Harold Bloom is the most distinguished professor of literature at the university since the university’s heyday at the vanguard of the New Criticism in the 1950’s. He is an awesome critical force and an inspirational figure in his efforts to keep the great tradition alive for another generation of students.
Today the Times reports that Professor Bloom has bypassed Yale and decided to donate his vast library and art collection to St. Michael’s College of Colchester, Vermont. The Times correctly places this decision in the context of Bloom’s disgust with the state of literary studies at Yale and elsewhere: “Harold Bloom has always railed against what he calls ‘the school of resentment,’ Marxist, feminist, Afrocentric and deconstructionist scholars who, he says, deny the aesthetic and spiritual values inherent in great literature. So when it came time for Mr. Bloom, 72, to choose a place to donate his immense personal library and his archives, he bypassed several larger prominent universities that in his opinion house those very practitioners of resentment in favor of a small, relatively unknown Catholic college in Colchester, Vt.”
Bloom himself explained his decision to the Times reporter slightly more indirectly: “Dear child, with rare exceptions the universities and colleges in the English-speaking world that have sustained some sense of literature as a matter of powerful cognition and extraordinary aesthetic beauty tend to be the Roman Catholic institutions.”
The Times article is “Critic’s books go to small college.” It seems to me this is the rare Times article that does justice to its subject despite its departure from the Times party line.
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