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Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds (2002)

av Harold Bloom

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1,2601111,679 (3.64)6
From the Bible to Ralph Ellison, America's most prominent and bestselling literary critic takes an enlightening look at the concept of genius through the ages in a celebration of the greatest creative writers of all time.
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Please be warned. The minds referred to in the title are those only of dead authors. It seems like half were poets.

And your reviewer is otherwise widely read but does not like 99% of poetry nor 85% of great poetry. I do love some of it, say some Homer, Ovid, Tu Fu, Khayyám (FitzGerald), Milton, Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Pushkin (Falan), or Thomas Hardy. Half of those are not in the book. But generally poetry is a nuisance [Mencken, Second Prejudices VI].

Bloom makes lots of analogies among his creative poetic geniuses, so he is comparing a lot that I would not care to read with a lot of other that I have not read or never heard of. If you are a poet or love the stuff, then you might add a star.

Then there are the analogies between some of the prose writers whom I have never read or hardly heard of. Some of his body of criticism does rest on his examination of influences among writers upon one another, yet I got a sense that here Bloom conceded generously to the temptation of showing off his wide erudition, which apparently began before he started elementary school. Or maybe he stole from his "The Anxiety of Influence", which I have not read. He does include quotations from the writings of his geniuses, helping the reader to form his own opinions.

This then is a book intended for professional literati. If you are one such literato, then you might add a star. An allowance should be made for value of this book to a reader who finds it in his hands and is becoming interested in dipping into great classic literature: the chapters on authors of those works might tempt or guide that reader to some of the greatest treasures of western civilization.

There are other sources of possible annoyance. Bloom tries to relate any convenient thing to Gnosticism, Jewish mysticism, or homoeroticism. I knew already just enough about the former two to be not further interested and am afraid to look up the third. To his arguable credit, he tries not to conceal his disgust with postmodernism and grievance studies that have stained or captured sectors of academia, his home.

That said, I mostly enjoyed much of the book, mostly that about the older classics. Not a lot. But it is long, and maybe I should never have opened it. ( )
  KENNERLYDAN | Jul 11, 2021 |
Harold Bloom takes 100 creative minds worthy of being called 'Genius' in his estimation and explains why he chose each person. Since the man is a literary critic he doesn't go into music or art criticism. Thus, you will not find Mozart or Delacroix being reviewed in these pages.

Professor Bloom starts out by describing his strange way of organizing the authors. Bloom goes by the Kabbalah and organizes them by the Sefirot. So there are ten different Sefirot and each Sefirot contains ten authors. Some of them I had not heard much of before. Others he chooses for reasons I did not expect. For instance, take Victor Hugo, the great Poetic genius of France. I seriously had not heard that he was a poet, and had only heard of him from Les Miserables(sic) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

In any case, I suppose I really need to step up my reading game, but I am glad that I heard of the Lion's Share of these authors. Not that it matters much. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
While I am very glad that he introduced me to the category of Essayists, I found him to be both pedantic and condescending. In short, nearly unbearable. Yet I did find his organisation of the work by Kabbalistic sephirot to be intriguing. ( )
  FourFreedoms | May 17, 2019 |
While I am very glad that he introduced me to the category of Essayists, I found him to be both pedantic and condescending. In short, nearly unbearable. Yet I did find his organisation of the work by Kabbalistic sephirot to be intriguing. ( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
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  junziguan | Dec 7, 2014 |
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From the Bible to Ralph Ellison, America's most prominent and bestselling literary critic takes an enlightening look at the concept of genius through the ages in a celebration of the greatest creative writers of all time.

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