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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Harold Bloom As Always

Posted by on November 12 at 18:17 PM

This is from a recent interview with the lovable literary critic Harold Bloom, whose war against pop culture and cultural studies is soon to enter its fourth decade:

IL: Your insistence on what you call higher culture makes many people mad, and when you talk about your dismay at the decline of the book as a cultural phenomenon, they say that never before in history have there been as many books and bookstores as now.

HB: I spend a good part of my life in bookstores I give readings there when a new book of mine has come out, I go there to read or simply to browse. But the question is what do these immense mountains of books consist of? 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 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.