Harold Bloom, an American literary critic and the Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University, died Oct. 14 in New Haven, CT. He was 89. He taught his last class at Yale three days prior to his death.
Following the publication of his first book in 1959, Bloom wrote more than 40 books, including 20 books of literary criticism, several books discussing religion, and a novel. During his lifetime, he edited hundreds of anthologies concerning numerous literary and philosophical figures for the Chelsea House publishing firm. Bloom’s books have been translated into more than 40 languages.
Bloom was a defender of the Western canon (Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton, etc.) at a time when literary departments were focusing on what he called the “literature of resentment” (multiculturalists, feminists, Marxists, neoconservatives and others). Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s Paradise Lost, all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible, and Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.
He was born into an Orthodox Jewish household, the youngest of five children. The first book he read was an anthology of Yiddish poetry. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, and was educated at Yale University, the University of Cambridge, and Cornell University.