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Book reviews for "Bloom,_Harold" sorted by average review score:

Holden Caulfield (Major Literary Characters)
Published in Library Binding by Chelsea House Pub (Library) (December, 1991)
Author: Harold Bloom
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Exploring the psyche of the adolescent male.
I find the character of Holden Caulfield so compelling, probably because I can identify with a lot about the character. He is obviously older than his years in many respects, but something of a Peter Pan type character. He strikes me as a person who doesn't really want to grow up, but also feels uncomfortable with being a child. His observations on people and their behaviour are just as valid today as they were when the book was first published. I'm sure we all know people who are very like the personalities in the book.

I couldn't put The Catcher in the Rye down, I was gripped. Mr. Salinger has done an excellent job of exposing the psyche of the adolescent.

Rambling .. So?
To the person who said Holden "talked too much" duder .. that was the point! I'm a female in love with that book and it's like, sometimes all you do is sit some where and ramble on and on about nothing of any importance. I think THAT was what made Holden so real. He over-analyzed quite a bit, which I think a lot of self concious teens do. I don't think this book so much describes all adolescents, just like Siddhartha doesn't speak the view of every Middle Easterner. You can't write a book and say "This here story is one that every (-fill-in-space-) can identify with." I personally DO agree with a lot of things he has to say but some of my friends think he is full of s***. Anyway ... thats my review :P

i see my self in place of holden he is so real .
This is one book which is close to reality, a book which relates to you ,as if i would have written this book if i ever had the guts to run away , to stay alone depressed and all . its hard to forget what your past was all the kids you meet may be good may be bad may be some you hated but its like you remember certain moments of certain days not that somthing special happened that day may be nothing happened but still you can picture it . Holden's character is one to which all the youths can identify with . I did not get the meaning of the title till Holden tells Phobey about what he wants to be , "THE CATCHER IN THE RYE".I probably want to be ,i don't know what but somebody different somebody good , a person who has certain amount of "HUMAN TOUCH". It is just that i seem to lose my way like holden. Holden was a dreamer , a child depressed by the circumstances . Its the best book i ever read or probably will ever read , definately no.1 book of all times.

Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (Bloom's Notes)
Published in Paperback by Chelsea House Publishing (December, 1999)
Authors: Harold Bloom and Aldous Huxley
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¿Community, Identity and Stability'
Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World' takes place in Europe, in 625 after Ford (people started a new era in 1908, the year in which the American industrialist Henry Ford produced his first Model-T car). There is a New World society. People are no longer born the natural way, but the state creates and conditions them. Humans are being mass produced and preconditioned to become members of one of the social classes, ranging from Alpha plus to Epsilon minus. People are going to work and get their soma. They get their education at their level and they get sleep teaching. It's a totally arranged life.

Aldous Huxley was born at Godalming in 1894, into a prominent family of scientists. The nearly blind man was educated at Eton and Oxford and writer of many novels, short stories, essays, drama and verse, but 'Brave New World' has proved to be his most lastingly popular work. The title was taken from Shakespeare's 'The Tempest', in which Miranda, when seeing the first glimpse of the world outside the island on which she grew up, speaks the words: "O brave new world that has such people in it."

In this novel-of-ideas and dystopia, or in other words, a savage criticism of the scientific future, the motto is Community, Identity and Stability. There is no love, no individualism and people do not have emotions. Everybody belongs to one big group. No one is alone, because everybody is the same. The motto is, off course, an ironic contrast with the battlecry of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. It's obvious that Huxley wants to point out the dangerous aspects of the advancement of science. People will abuse the results of investigations, which will make the individual disappear.

The link of the motto with the battlecry of the French Revolution is not the only one. Many of the character's names are composed by use of the names of historical heroes. For example Benito Hoover, is made of Benito Mussolini and Herbert Hoover. This way the writer is parodying all the time.

The story starts at the London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, where the Director explains some students how humans are being made by the Bokanovski-process. Eggs divide again and again (sometimes even 96 humans are beings hatch from one egg). When the Director asks a student whether he knows what a parent is, he answers: '"Human beings used to be." he hesitated; the blood rushed to his cheeks. "Well, they used to be viviparous."'

Bernard Marx is different from others. Something went wrong when he was in his bottle. He turned out to be, although he is, too small for an Alpha. He doesn't look like and has more emotions than other Alphas, which makes him not belonging to the big group. He and his colleague Lenina, a very pretty girl, who is very popular among the Alphas, go to New Mexico, to the Savages. Here the people haven't been scientifically produced. They meet John and his mother and take them to their world, which John really likes. He would love to see the New World. John hasn't been manipulated, so he's still able to have strong feelings....

A real pessimist can only think of a world like this. Therefore I think it's amazing how Huxley made up this story. It's been a great pleasure reading it, and it makes you start thinking about what the world will be in the future. Next to that, there's another, an educational aspect in the book. People have to be aware of abusers of knowledge. Huxley sure makes clear what he wants to say. It's a perfect novel.

Everyone should be required to read Brave New World!
Everyone should be required to read Brave New World. Huxley provides great insight into the effects of science dominating the human race. He shows that life in the Utopia is more efficient in many respects, however it lacks the deep human emotions that give meaning to life other than "constant consumption." Although first published in 1932, it is amazingly close to reality of life today. Brave New World's vivid descriptions and lively commentaries will hold your attention throughout the entire book. Once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down!

A Shocking Glance At The Future
This was a great book. Huxley's view of a future "Utopian" state is very shocking, and it says a lot about society and technology. It really makes you think, and I like that. It is also very straightforward and it's hard to miss the point Huxley is making. If you like science fiction this book is a must! Definitely worth your time.

The Complete Poems of Hart Crane (Centennial Edition)
Published in Paperback by Liveright (May, 2001)
Authors: Hart Crane, Marc Simon, Harold Bloom, and Mark Simon
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Hart Crane's Poetry: "These the anguish are worth..."
This collection of Crane's work is a poetry lover's dream. Without going into a critical analysis, (an excellent example is included in the forward of the book) I found his work engaging both intellectually and emotionally. Perhaps one of the most human and honest of poets, from his early work to his last poem, "The Broken Tower", his imagery is consistently refreshing, stimulating and, ultimately, very moving. Of particualr note are the lesser known poems of his youth. They are perhaps the most accessible to readers unaccustomed to poetry of this depth and density. "The Hive" is a wonderful expression of his own struggle as an artist. Also, the series "Voyages", written about his love affair with Emil Opffer, is a beautifully rendered poem using the power of the sea as a metaphor for their love. For readers familiar with the first edition, I found the new introduction a bit too dry and analytical. The original intro told more of Crane's life and the human struggles he went through and explained more about his suicide. I found that to be an invaluable guide to understanding much of what he expresses in the poetry. The new hardbound edition is beautifully layed out and gives justice to the sensitive work within it.

Amazing stuff
Hart Crane is unbelievable. His images are so striking and provocative; they aren't easy but once you get them it's hard to do much except shake your head and marvel at his genius. Who else would describe noon as "a riptooth of the sky's acetylene" or say of bells "oval encyclicals in canyons heaping / The impasse high with choir" ? He truly abolishes all platitudes and cliches to re-describe scenes in fresh and illuminating ways that burst upon your consciousness as in tidal waves of light. As Gertrude Stein tried to do and failed, Crane replaces the name with the thing itself; essential for all poetry lovers and otherwise elevated souls.

A martyr in art
Beautifully written, Crane's poetic compositions, with their choice diction, dense and imaginative allegories and technical virtuosity, fall easily into the category of the poetry of "sensation", that is say, poetry characterised chiefly by the registering of impressions. It must be acknowledged that Crane's gifts were best suited to the lyric form. His accomplished style, rhetorical, incantatory, inventive and rhapsodic, steeped in Symbolism and Romanticism, places him above the entire gallery of American Modernist poets. The poetry of Crane, Whitman's proper heir, while pregnant with symbol and allusion, and broad in intellectual reference, does not grow to become forced, pedantic and overlearned as that of Pound. His protests, his struggles, his torments are no less significant than those of Jeffers, though Crane could at least avoid the latter's preaching and occasional pomposity. Above all, he was the poet of "sensation" par excellence, endowed with a capacity for disclosing the furthest and deepest reaches of emotion and feeling, by virtue of his high poetic gifts. Prodigiously talented and doom-laden, Crane, in spiritual kinship with Rimbaud and Shelley, lived as though he were tyrannised, without respite, by Furies he could not conciliate, developing into a compulsive and violent drunk, battling his homosexual urgings, braving the tide of public opinion, which regarded him as a social outcast, and finally plunging to his death in the ocean (which serves in so many of his poems as a symbol of death) at the age of thirty-two. Few martyrs in art have suffered more painfully. Few have endured more grievous torments. All the more are we compelled to admire Crane's stoicism. "Impavidum ferient ruinae".

Albert Camus's the Stranger (Modern Critical Interpretations)
Published in Library Binding by Chelsea House Pub (Library) (January, 2001)
Authors: Harold Bloom and Albert Camus
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A book that speaks to your secret self....
"The Stranger" is a wonderful little book, filled with deceptively simple language and actions. It's understated, very subtle, and except for the outright atheist vs. church stuff at the end, you've really got to work for it. You can pick it up, read it in a night, put it down, and refuse to be affected...but if you listen, the meaning is in there, deep and dark, not didactic, more like a whisper.

The apparent indifference Mersault carries strikes one as inhuman: shrugging off his mother's death, swearing off the church, agreeing to marry in a heartbeat, and, most poignantly, accepting his fate - a death sentence. But the things Mersault is trying to say through the gaps between what's actually on the page is simple: it's all arbitrary, we're fools on a ball spinning around a star, and contentment is the simplest thing to feel amidst chaos.

Although the murder and the trial, and definitely the funeral, are fantastic moral-bending existentialist scenes, what sticks with you in the dark of night, is as simple as the prose and also as endlessly complex: we're here, we'll never understand each other, we see what's most convenient to see, and we all die in the end anyway, whether or not our tenure here can be marked as "good" or "bad" or "moral". Not the most uplifting read in the world, but literature is a cruel mistress sometimes.

One of my favorite stories!
This is one of my favorite books. I first read it in high school and fell in love with it. Mersault (the main character) finds himself guilty of murdering an Arab. The book soon reveals it is his lack of involvement in society that stands trial. I strongly recomend this books for those that are interested in existentialism.

My favorite book of all time
A book about the "Absurd" hero... A man who can only enjoy the moment, with no thought of the future or the past, who does only what feels good at the moment... who is not ruled by the monotonous machinery of the world, who refuses to set routines... and yet becomes entangled in the impersonal machinery of society.

By the way, this book is about as un-autobiographical as is possible for a book to be. Yes, Camus grew up in Algiers and loved to swim, but he was primarily a thinker; he was utterly incapable of turning off his mind and thinking everything through. He philosophy was completely opposed to the Meursault's view of life. Yet, like me, he found in Meursault a certain honesty, of living consistently, without faking emotions and conventions. But it was ultimately against Meursault's attitude that Camus fought in his books and essays.

It is a philosophical novel, and no doubt people will be turned off by anything that challenges them, but definitely give this book a chance. It has more to say than all but a handful of books five times the length of this one. I read it almost ten years ago for school, and have read it a half dozen times since, as well as every other novel Camus wrote... those for my own enjoyment. Put aside that King book for a week and read one of the greatest books ever written.

Published in Paperback by Chelsea House Publishing (January, 1999)
Author: Harold Bloom
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Beowulf is in Anglo-Saxon, but is probably originally a Norse legend. Please ignore the comment in another review that the Anglo-Saxons were ancestors of King Arthur! Arthur, if he existed, was a British king who fought the Romans. The Angles, Saxons and Jutes were teutonic tribes who came to England at the end of the Roman occupation several centuries later.

Beowulf (Modern Critical Interpretation)
The concept of the Modern Critical Interpretation series is an excellent one. The editor, Harold Bloom, a renowned scholar in his own right, has assembled the best literary criticism of a large number of important works.

If you want to get a deeper insight into Beowulf as a work of literature, this book is an excellent way to do it. Some of the essays are a bit challenging--the book is for the fairly serious Beowulf fan. Seamus Heaney's translation really got me into a work which I've been meaning to get to for a long time. This collection of essays took me the rest of the way--it told me all I wanted to know about Beowulf as work of literature. Think of it as a senior-level college text book.

The essays give the reader some valuable insights into the language, but you don't have to know Old English to appreciate it. But a willingness to learn about a few of the words will help.

"Difficult" classics usually pay back many-fold the effort one puts into studying them. Beowulf and these essays are definitely worth that time and effort.

The Unknown Predecessor of Marlowe and Shakespeare
When I had to switch my college study to English, I was a bit frightened of all the reading before me. This book told me that I was in for a REAL exciting journey towards my B.A. "Beowulf" is no less than an exquisite masterpiece. It is just the right length, the images are well drawn, the language is well used, and the plot is more complex than we may have thought. The setting prior to Beowulf's entrance is well constructed. Beowulf's character is well prepared upon his entrance. Unferth is well placed. He reveals to us that despite Beowulf's piety and courage, he is not a flawless hero. He suffers from excessive pride. Beowulf's fight with Grendel offers suspense and captivation, and we are even allowed a small amount of sympathy for Grendel when he escapes only to die later. We are then told the story of Siegmund, and his fall over excessive pride foreshadows Beowulf's fall. (History repeats itself.) Grendel's mother than comes to avenge her son. (This goes way beyond a simple chapter.) She is a threat that must be dealt with, but it is difficult not to feel sorry for her. (She is after all a mother in sorrow over her son's death.) Although Unferth rebuked Beowulf earlier, he joins with Beowulf for a common cause, and later, Beowulf ADMITS that the battle was very close. (He is not invincible.) King Hrothgar then warns Beowulf of excessive pride. Later the dragon attacks, and Beowulf displays excessive pride (the very thing King Hrothgar warned him against). In this battle Beowulf does fight with courage, and Wiglaf displays touching loyalty to Beowulf in this battle where Beowulf dies. Beowulf's funeral is a fitting end for this masterpiece. So we have a hero with strength, virtues, and flaws, suspense, well organization, well drawn supporting characters, complex villains, and even an element of mystery! Who was this author?

Charles Dickens' a Tale of Two Cities (Contemporary Literary Views)
Published in Paperback by Chelsea House Publishing (May, 1996)
Authors: Harold Bloom and William Golding
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It keeps going, and going, and going....
Part of the reason Dickens uses his "flowery" language, despite the effectiveness in creating vivid imagery, was that he was paid by the word. Therefore, his wordiness should not solely be considered an artistic choice, which makes you a bit more sympathetic to how long winded this book can seem. It is however a classic for good reason, with a compelling plot, even without very memorable characters. Still a good book to read for its historical context, and if you can handle the language it, for its good story.

A Tale of Two Cities
Probably the first thing I thought about when I first read Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities was, 'There's WAY too much detail in thing dumb novel!' Well, as I read on it occurred to me that Dicken's uses his amazing flowery language for a reason. It gives you the 'reality' feeling, like you can actually see and picture in your mind what is going on. The novel grabs you in places and lets you feel the sorrow or happiness the characters feel. His rendition of London and Paris are extraordinary because he lets you see the injustice and the anguish that the peasant class felt at that time. The use of detail and language in this novel is one of its most effective elements and truely I would rate this book as one of the best.

Sophocles (Bloom's Major Dramatists)
Published in Library Binding by Chelsea House Pub (Library) (January, 2003)
Authors: Harold Bloom and Janyce Marson
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Good For an Introduction to Sophocles
The Lattimore/Grene translations of Sophocles balance ease of reading with closeness to the original Greek text nicely. Hugh-Lloyd Jones's translation, which can be found in the Loeb edition of Sophocles's tragedies, is unquestionably superior at rendering the original Greek text, but it can come across as archaic and confusing to high school students or those unversed in Greek literature. Lattimore and Grene, unlike many modern translators, DO feel that they owe more to their readers than the loosest gist of the original text, and they deliver it.
All that said, I would advise readers to be cautious of these translations for the following reasons. First, the plays are presented in the chronological order according to the myths they portray - not in the order in which Sophocles wrote them. In other words, even though Antigone was one of the first plays Sophocles produced and Oedipus at Colonus was produced posthumously, they are presented in order of their dramatic events. This means that they are very likely translated without regard for any evolution of Sophocles's thought or any implicit commentary the poet might have made upon the works of his own youth.
Second, in his introduction, Grene states that he sees in Oedipus at Colonus Sophocles's clumsy attempt to cover over the inconsistencies of his Theban Cycle. While this is certainly not all Grene sees in Oedipus at Colonus, the judgement of anyone who takes so irreverent and shallow a view of the last work of the most technically savvy tragedian of the classic age must be called into question.
In summary: Buy this book, read it, enjoy it, but if you're going to write an important paper on Sophocles, look at his work in the Greek, or at least in the Lloyd-Jones translation of the Loeb edition.

Too Many Words! Taylor's Translation of Sophocles' Antigone
In the movie, "Amadeus," the Austrian emperor avers that Mozart's new opera has "too many notes." The composer, on the contrary, thinks the number just right, as does even his envious rival, Salieri. The defect lay in the emperor's taste, not in the composer's art.

In Don Taylor's translation of "Antigone," published in the book, Sophocles, The Theban Plays, there are indeed too many notes, i.e., words. The defect does not lie in the art of Sophocles, nor in the requirements of translation. Taylor wrote with a contract for television performance already in hand. He fashions lines that are easy for actors to play and for audiences to understand. Having translated a character's thought, he often expands, supplements or restates the material. Thus, the audience is given a second and third bite at the apple of understanding. But this is more like a college lecturer who fears that his students won't get the point, than like Sophocles, who is famous for a clear, solid, succinct style.

Sophocles peppers his scenes, usually dialogues between two persons, with extended series of one-line "zingers," which the characters alternately thrust and counterthrust. The power and excitement of the exchanges lie in economy and pointedness of expression. To illustrate, here is a segment from the first scene between Creon and the soldier who tells him that Polynices' body has been partly buried. The first translation is by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald, available in their book, The Oedipus Cycle, and also in Greek Plays in Modern Translation, both listed on The second translation is Taylor's.

SENTRY: King, may I speak?
CREON: Your very voice distresses me.
SENTRY: Are you sure that it is my voice and not your conscience?
CREON: By God, he wants to analyse me now!
SENTRY: It is not what I say, but what has been done, that hurts you.
CREON: You talk too much.
SENTRY: Maybe, but I've done nothing.
CREON: Sold your soul for some silver: that's all you've done.
SENTRY: How dreadful it is when the right judge judges wrong.

SOLDIER: Am I allowed to speak, sir?
Why should you speak? Every word you say
Is painful to me.
SOLDIER: Well, it can't be earache,
Can it sir, not what I said!
It must stick in your gullet. Or further down
Maybe, a sort of pain in your conscience.
CREON: Do you dare to answer me back: and make jokes
About my conscience?
SOLDIER: Me sir? No sir!
I might give you earache; I can see that.
I talk too much, always have done.
But the other pain, the heartburn as it were,
It's the criminal causing that sir, not me.
CREON: You're not short of a quick answer, either.
SOLDIER: Maybe not. But I didn't bury the body.
Not guilty to that sir.
CREON: But maybe guilty
Of selling your eyes for money, eh sentry,
Of looking the other way for cash?
SOLDIER: I think it's a shame sir, that an intelligent man
And as well educated as you are
Should miss the point so completely.

The Fitts/Fitzgerald translation has 9 lines and 86 words; compared to Taylor's 24 and 160. Sophocles had used 9 lines and only 69 words. All the one-liner segments, occurring in almost every scene, undergo a similar transformation at Taylor's hand. But they are not alone. The same translating style appears in the major speeches of the play. Listen to part of the condemnation of Creon by the prophet, Teiresias, from Taylor first this time, then from Fitts/Fitzgerald.

TEIRESIAS: Listen Creon. This is the truth!
Before many more days, before the sun has risen
- Well, shall we say a few more times -
You will have made your payment, corpse
For corpse, with a child of your own blood.
You have buried the one still living: the woman
Who moves and breathes, you have given to the grave:
And the dead man you have left, unwashed,
Unwept, and without the common courtesy
Of a decent covering of earth. So that both
Have been wronged, and the gods of the underworld,
To whom the body justly belongs,
Are denied it, and are insulted. Such matters
Are not for you to judge. You usurp
Ancient rights which even the gods
Themselves don't dare to question, powers
Which are not in the prerogative of kings.
Even now, implacable avengers
Are on their way, the Furies, who rise up
From Hell and swoop down from Heaven,
Fix their hooks into those who commit crimes,
And will not let go. The suffering
You inflicted upon others, will be inflicted
Upon you, you will suffer, as they did.
Have I been bribed, do you think? Am I speaking
For money now? Before very long,
Yes, it will be soon, there will be screaming
And bitter tears and hysterical crying
In this house. Men, as well as women.

TEIRESIAS: Then take this, and take it to heart!
The time is not far off when you shall pay back
Corpse for corpse, flesh of your own flesh.

You have thrust the child of this world into living night,
You have kept from the gods below the child that is theirs:
The one in a grave before her death, the other,
Dead, denied the grave. This is your crime:
And the Furies and the dark gods of Hell
Are swift with terrible punishment for you.
Do you want to buy me now, Creon? Not many days,
And your house will be full of men and women weeping.

Box score, lines and words. Taylor 29:223. Fitts/Fitzgerald 11:106. Sophocles 16:94.

Are all these words really necessary? Taylor claims that his approach helps to make the text not only more dramatic and intelligible, but also more poetic. I agree that his version is easier to grasp by first-time viewers or readers. But in the process much of the Sophoclean clarity, solidity and reality are lost.

The Plays of Sophocles
Sophocles was a master of ancient Greek tragedy. Any criticism of these works is worse than ignorant. End of story. And yes, I'm aware that that was a sentence fragment, so there's no need to notify me of that via some nasty e-mail.

Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Modern Critical Interpretations)
Published in Library Binding by Chelsea House Pub (Library) (December, 2001)
Authors: Harold Bloom and Tennessee Williams
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A beautifully constructed drama of the lie of life and death
Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize winning play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is a reverie filled drama of lust, greed, and death that puts emphasis on the interaction of families. Williams creates universal characters that are pathetic yet familiar and therefore warrant the reader's sympathy. He writes with such deceptive simplicity that he masks his characters's inner turmoil initially, making the turnout of such characterizations intriguing. The play presents that humanity isn't beautiful while attempting to shed light on the emotional lies that govern the interaction of families. "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"'s intertwining themes of the lie of life and the deception of death provide the reader with insight towards the amblivalence of life.

To say so much within such a short piece is a mystery within itself. The sheer power of the plot is testimony of Williams's genius. The play is beautifully constructed and hits upon many themes and emotions with clarity and precision, making it an enjoyable read while having substance. I did an analysis of this book for my junior Reading class, and recommend the read to anyone seeking high drama and a well rounded take on death.

Southern passion and pain
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is another masterpiece by Tennessee Williams, who was truly one of the 20th century's greatest playwrights. This play was presented in New York in the 1950s, and in book form it is an excellent read.

I haven't looked at other editions, but the Signet edition contains two different versions of Act 3, along with a note by Williams explaining how director Elia Kazan persuaded him to write a second version. This feature makes the book particularly useful for teachers and students.

"Cat" takes place on a Southern plantation, and deals with a wealthy, but very dysfunctional family. Williams creates stunning dialogue for his characters: Brick, the bitter, alcoholic ex-athlete; Brick's frustrated wife Margaret; "Big Daddy," the patriarch, who is dying of cancer; and the rest. Williams also establishes the plantation's original owners as a haunting presence through the lines of his characters.

"Cat" is an explosive family drama about greed, secrets, guilt, alcoholism, and sexual frustration. Williams' characters are larger-than-life, and even grotesque, but Williams never loses a grasp on their essential humanity. An important book for those with a serious interest in American drama.

a play that deals with human relations on the surface
Cat on A Hot Tin roof deals with love and loss, but once looked into deeper, deals with each character's take on death. this play is genius, and to give you a taste--"...But a man can't buy his life with it [money], he can't buy back his life with it when his life has been spent, that's one thing not offered in the Europe fire sale or in the Amercian markets or any markets on earth, a mans can't but his life with it, he can't buy back his life when his life is finished."

The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry
Published in Paperback by Cornell Univ Pr (June, 1971)
Authors: Harold Bloom and William Golding
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bloom on the romantics . . .
Bloom ate Blake, Crane, Shakespeare, Shelley, and the rest of them before adolescence and has been digesting ever since. Even before his lifelong meal, his intellect is simply larger and sharper than anyone else's.

Superb Introduction to British Romanticism
The most accessible book on British Romanticism I've ever read. Bloom does an outstanding job providing the big picture of the period and a close, specific explication of individual works.

Explaining the inexplicable
A couple of things to start off: This is the best of Bloom at the height of his power, and this book is ultimatly the one that will be remembered despite Bloom's sad, downward spiral into "Omens of The Millenium" and other such kitsch.-This book, when first published in 1960, was an affront to the prevailing Neo-Classicism triumphed by T.S. Eliot and the soi-disant New Criticism, both of which defined themselves, to a great extent, by despising the Romantics and in seeking to give the lie to their poetic ability and influence. Neither school is now given much account, while the Romantics are still with us.-The problem with a book defending the Romantics and explaining their poetry is that you are attempting to explain what the poets themselves saw as inexplicable, the vision of the visionary company is that of a divine beauty not of this world making itself known to the poets not at the summoning of their will, but, as Shelley beautifully puts it, like a sudden wind firing a fading coal. It would be a futile endeavor to go over the texts of each of the poets in this necessarily brief review and explain, as Bloom does, how this vision manifested itself in each of them.-That's, after all, what the book's for!-But, as an example, take the final poem of one of Bloom's and my favorite of the Visionary Commpany, Shelley. His unfinished, final poem before he drowned at the age of 30, "The Triumph of Life," is an almost perfect example of why defending the Romantics is such a difficult and complex task, and why this book is such a triumph for Bloom. The "Triumph of Life" describes a public way thronged with people "All hastening onward, yet none seemed to know whither he went, or whence he came, or why...". This is the plight not only of the common man, but of kings, potentates etc. (Napolean makes a brief and horrid appearance). Then follows behind a blazing chariot, which is Life here on Earth as we commonly know it, and that light blinds all to the moon and stars, symbols of Nature and Imagination, respectively. Thus Shelley learns, in common with all the Romantics who had not the luck that Keats had, of dying young, that the "spark with which heaven lit my spirit" is no match eventually for the blinding light of Life. This view of common life, devoid of poetic vision, as, frankly, something evil, is a difficult matter to explain to those who have not shared in the vision. But, intellectually, it's subject matter should not appear strange. It amounts to the Fall of Man, as described Biblically.-The upshot of all this for the poet, who now sees life as evil, is that, quoting Bloom, "Life, our life, can be met only by quietism or by willful self-destruction." This echoes some lines by that later (some would say last) Romantic, Yeats, "What portion can the artist have, who has awakened from the common dream, but dissipation and despair?"-This is hard and unpleasant to many, but it is logical, and makes sense of what the aforementioned literary schools trampled on as sentimental cheeseparings. This then is the book's triumph. No longer can these poets and their poetry be dismissed without contending with Bloom. A formidable obstacle indeed!

Homer's Iliad (Bloom's Notes)
Published in Library Binding by Chelsea House Pub (Library) (June, 1996)
Author: Harold Bloom
Amazon base price: $22.95
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Homer for Dummies
I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that as a junior literature major, this is the first time I have ever read The Iliad all the way through. Though I can't compare the Rouse translation to others, I can say a few words based on my perception of it. First, you'll notice that it is a prose, not poetry. This did not hinder the experience for me, but individual readers may wish to experience this classic the other way. I found it to be much easier reading than I expected, with the central characters easy to remember and follow. The story clips along rapidly and is rarely boring. The introduction states that much of the repetition that would be necessary for oral storytelling has been removed for the benefit of the reader, which I found to be a positive. However, there is still plenty of repetition of certain phrases ("and darkness covered his eyes" or "rattling armor" come to mind) and there is no shortage long lineages or lists of previously anonymous characters killed in battle. Still, it is worthwhile to get to know Homer and this seems like a reasonable translation to begin with.

One of the finest reading experiences of my life!
I have been reading two translations of Homer's Iliad over the past several weeks: Robert Fagles' 1990 translation and Alexander Pope's 1743 translation. I have read the two translations in tandem, one "book" at a time. I first read Mr Fagle's translation, then the notes of Mr Pope, and finally his translation. I would call this one of the finest reading experiences of my life. I read both translations out-loud, or at least in a whisper. This winter-time reading experience has been, for me, a labor of love, a stimulating intellectual experience, a study in contrasts, and a return to the sources of Western Literature. I find Homer as fascinating as Alexander Pope claims him to be. Although his long narrative describes only a few days of the ten years war between Greece and Troy, he makes it interesting by his variety of metaphors, his close description of characters, and his attention to detail. Every man who dies is a person, with family, friends, history, and personality. Some are likeable, others are not; but in any case there are no ciphers in Homer's war. I am fascinated too by the developing theological issues of this six century BCE civilization. We might have to worship these meddlesome gods and their All-powerful Zeus, but do we always have to respect them? They seem to be all too human. In fact, the gods themselves seem to be trapped in an eternally frustrating struggle. Zeus is condemned to defend his sovereignty against a panoply of gods who must always resent his authority. Meanwhile, he is lonely, and he cannot stop himself from occasionally confiding in "that bitch" his sister and wife, Hera. She reminds me of a woman in a recent movie who said "Sometimes being a bitch is the only way a woman can save her self-respect." (Or something to that effect.) "Hera" represents that eternally angry woman who will not and cannot buckle under male domination. I find myself being grateful to this western tradition which has honored and preserved the memory of Homer and kept these ancient books in tact. I grieve at the thought of ancient celtic, african, and native american epics that have been lost or so badly mangled that they cannot be restored. I understand that there has been an enormous flurry of excitement over Mr Fagles' translation and I am certainly caught up in it as well. He tells these stories with excitement and conviction; they are as plausible and coherent today as they must have been to the privileged listeners who sat at the feet of Homer. But I am also grateful to Penguin Press who last year celebrated their 50th anniversary by republishing this magnificent translation by Alexander Pope. I only wish more of the reading public had heard about the celebration. I hate to admit that I was an indifferent student in college. I had other things on my mind. But now, in my middle years, I am glad to have the time and opportunity, to curl up with two great translations of Homer's Iliad on a winter's evening, to discover again the joy of reading superb English.

Best first read
I am a retired high school and college instructor who taught the Iliad many times at both levels. The Rouse version was always my translation of choice, and it was enormously successful. The complaints (or halfhearted commendations here) miss the point. Most seem to think that Rouse's "plain English" version is a diminution of the original. All translations are! Rouse merely eliminated many epithets and repetitions (necessary in the meter of the poem and unnecessary in prose). But Rouse is extremely accurate within his chosen limits and the result is a brilliant achievement: a fast-moving text (as is the original) that is colloquial where appropriate, noble sithout being stuffy when nobility is called for; the result is an always ongoing, rapidly moving narrative told in vivid, sinewy prose that simply hurtles you along. It does not attempt to give the more complex reading experience that Fitzgerald and Lattimore and Fagles achieve in their superb verse translations; but these are best reserved for second . . .or 17th readings, once the complex story and relations between characters are mastered. And indeed, none of the more famous verse translations (Pope's is to be avoided: it's a beautiful Augustan poem, not Homer)--none come close to Rouse's focused and frightening rendering of Achilles' on the battlefield, once he goes into action. In short, Rouse is in spirit thoroughly "Homeric"--by turns racy and funny, savage, noble, ultimately tragic as, e.g., the dreadful Victorian versions of Butler and Lang, Leaf, & Myers are not and should be avoided). Even with the small point-size in which the text was set, Rouse's Homer is not just a bargain: it's a treasure bought at a small price.

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