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The Anxiety of Influence, Harold Bloom (1973)

Bloom revolutionizes literary theory by claiming that hell is the poets that came before you

by
A.O. Scott
September 17, 2013

By the 1970s, several generations of Jewish critics had laid claim to the normatively Protestant English literary tradition, mostly through the lenses of assimilationist social aspiration and Freudian psychoanalysis. Bloom was far bolder. He found in the history of English poetry from Milton to the moderns a patriarchal melodrama worthy of the Pentateuch, and he stripped away the, er, gentility to reveal—or infer—a poetry of existential terror and prophetic awe.

A.O. Scott is a film critic for The New York Times.

A.O. Scott is a film critic for The New York Times.

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