October 28th, 2005 | Published in Books & Reading
An interesting interview with Harold Bloom (published Oct. 7, 2005). Some excerpts:
I am very unwise, I can asure you. Unwise in all things. I think I am a good teacher of literature, particularly of Shakespeare. At Yale on Wednesdays I give an undergraduate seminar. Of course, I am a one-man department, I divorced the English department back in 1976, I convinced them to reappoint me as a “profesor of absolutely nothing” – I give courses in something called humanities. And on Wednesdays I give a course, year by year, where we read all of Shakespeare together. And on Thursdays I give a course called “The Art of Reading Poetry”. I regard myself as a teacher. I remark in this new book that I have only three criteria for whether a work should be read and reread and taught to others, and they are: aesthetic splendour, cognitive power, and wisdom….
You know, child, my electronic mailbox overflowing with daily mesages from Potterites who still cannot forgive me for the article I published in Wall Street Journal more than a year ago, entitled “Can 35 Million Harry Potter Fans Be Wrong? — Yes!” These people claim that Harry Potter does great things for their children. I think they are deceiving themselves. I read the first book in the Potter series, the one that’s supposed to be the best. I was shocked. Every sentence there is a string of cliches, there are no characters %u2013 any one of them could be anyone else, they speak in each other’s voice, so one gets confused as to who is who.
IL: Yet the defenders of Harry Potter claim that these books get their children to read.
HB: But they don’t! Their eyes simply scan the page. Then they turn to the next page. Their minds are deadened by cliches. Nothing is required of them, absolutely nothing. Nothing happens to them. They are invited to avoid reality, to avoid the world and they are not invited to look inward, into themselves. But of course it is an exercise in futility to try to oppose Harry Potter.