Titled "Criticism and Self-Influence," focusing on his readings of Whitman in his first lecture and of Shakespeare in his second, these lectures are contributions to Bloom's intellectual biography. They will give a sense of how Harold Bloom reads, what stirs his mind, what he looks for, and what he projects on a text. With so impressive a list of works to his credit, Bloom will assess not only his impact on the world of literary criticism, but also his vision as a man of letters who has taught us how to think about that one subject that will always challenge our ability to think: art.
Harold Bloom is a Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University and a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. His more than thirty books include The Best Poems of the English Language, The Art of Reading Poetry, and The Book of J. He is a MacArthur Prize Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, including the Academy's Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism, the International Prize of Catalonia, and the Alfonso Reyes Prize of Mexico.
Walt Whitman, photograph by Mathew Brady.Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.(born May 31, 1819, West Hills, Long Island, N.Y., U.S.died March 26, 1892, Camden, N.J.) U.S. poet, journalist, and essayist. Whitman lived in Brooklyn as a boy and left school at age 12. He went on to hold a great variety of jobs, including writing and editing for periodicals. His revolutionary poetry dealt with extremely private experiences (including sexuality) while celebrating the collective experience of an idealized democratic American life. His Leaves of Grass (1st ed., 1855), revised and much expanded in successive editions that incorporated his subsequent poetry, was too frank and unconventional to win wide acceptance in its day, but it was hailed by figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and exerted a strong influence on American and foreign literature. Written without rhyme or traditional metre, poems such as I Sing the Body Electric and Song of Myself assert the beauty of the human body, physical health, and sexuality; later editions included Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, and the elegies on Abraham Lincoln O Captain! My Captain! and When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd. Whitman served as a volunteer in Washington hospitals during the Civil War. The prose Democratic Vistas (1871) and Specimen Days & Collect (188283) drew on his wartime experiences and subsequent reflections. His powerful influence in the 20th century can be seen in the work of poets as diverse as Pablo Neruda, Fernando Pessoa, and Allen Ginsberg.