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How to read and why by Harold Bloom
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How to read and why (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Harold Bloom (Author)

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1,866223,704 (3.41)40
Member:edwinbcn
Title:How to read and why
Authors:Harold Bloom (Author)
Info:New York: Simon and Schuster (2000)
Collections:Read but unowned, Read All Time, Read in 2012
Rating:*1/2
Tags:English Literature, American Literature, French Literature, German Literature, Literary Criticism, Essays, CASS

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How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom (2000)

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
It was interesting to read about some of the authors, though I skipped the chapters about poems and plays. I think there's more interesting literature criticism and "books about books" out there. He got me interested to read some of the books but I didn't like how he compared everything to Shakespeare and he seemed a little bit stuck on the "fine arts" concept. Bloom have other titles that seems more interesting, so I'll give him another change.

This books just gets a two star because he did manage to wake up the interest for books I've intended to read for years but never gotten around too, but just two stars because of what I've written above. ( )
  Wilwarin | Apr 7, 2013 |
When I bought this book, How to read and why by Harold Bloom, I mistook the author for Allan Bloom, whose The closing of the American mind I had so much enjoyed reading many years ago.

Discovering the confusion over authorship was not what subsequently upset me, upset being an understatement. Like many other reviewers, I am simply angry about the deceptive title. How to read and why purports to be a book which might give some guidance on HOW to approach world-class literature, and discuss WHY literacy is of value. However, these questions are barely dealt with, other than an 8.5-page section consisting of the most obvious platitudes why reading is important.

Instead, the book consists of listings of all novels, story collections, poems, etc which the author deems essential reading. Some of his choices are questionable, and apparently made only upon his eminent authority as an expert. ( )
1 vote edwinbcn | Dec 23, 2012 |
"How to Read and Why" should be called "In Praise of Books I Love." It is not a manual for becoming a better reader, or a gloss of important works and themes, or a defense of the Western Canon. It's a loving letter to readers from a man who has spent his whole life studying, rereading, and lecturing on the world's finest literature, and is still in awe of and profoundly moved by these works. He not only convinces you that these works are worth reading (even many times), but also why you should reread them, even if you have already read them many times. I'm embarrassed to say that about half of them I've never read even once, but I'm eager to start (re)reading them all. ( )
  Marse | Oct 18, 2012 |
Although I got some good ideas for books to read, I found myself skimming through chunks of this book. It's a collection of reviews as opposed to a treatise on reading. This is an erroneous preconception that I take credit for. Much of the material I had already read, and have my own opinion on; although some of his insight was a reminder, much like the other reviews here would be of this book. With the Internet up and working, a person should be able to find reviews and lists of books that are catered to their tastes--much like LT--instead of skimming through a book like this. ( )
  labrick | Jul 18, 2011 |
"The solitary reader should read for the purest of all reasons: to discover and augment the self." ( )
  lacurieuse | Feb 20, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harold Bloomprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Verduin, VictorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book."
-Wallace Stevens
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Miriam Bratu Hansen
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There is no single way to read well, though there is a prime reason why we should read.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684859076, Paperback)

Harold Bloom's urgency in How to Read and Why may have much to do with his age. He brackets his combative, inspiring manual with the news that he is nearing 70 and hasn't time for the mediocre. (One doubts that he ever did.) Nor will he countenance such fashionable notions as the death of the author or abide "the vagaries of our current counter-Puritanism" let alone "ideological cheerleading." Successively exploring the short story, poetry, the novel, and drama, Bloom illuminates both the how and why of his title and points us in all the right directions: toward the Romantics because they "startle us out of our sleep-of-death into a more capacious sense of life"; toward Austen, James, Proust; toward Thomas Mann, Toni Morrison, and Cormac McCarthy; toward Cervantes and Shakespeare (but of course!), Ibsen and Oscar Wilde.

How should we read? Slowly, with love, openness, and with our inner ear cocked. Then we should reread, reread, reread, and do so aloud as often as possible. "As a boy of eight," he tells us, "I would walk about chanting Housman's and William Blake's lyrics to myself, and I still do, less frequently yet with undiminished fervor." And why should we engage in this apparently solitary activity? To increase our wit and imagination, our sense of intimacy--in short, our entire consciousness--and also to heal our pain. "Until you become yourself," Bloom avers, "what benefit can you be to others." So much for reading as an escape from the self!

Still, many of this volume's pleasures may indeed be selfish. The author is at his best when he is thinking aloud and anew, and his material offers him--and therefore us--endless opportunities for discovery. Bloom cherishes poetry because it is "a prophetic mode" and fiction for its wisdom. Intriguingly, he fears more for the fate of the latter: "Novels require more readers than poems do, a statement so odd that it puzzles me, even as I agree with it." We must, he adjures, crusade against its possible extinction and read novels "in the coming years of the third millennium, as they were read in the eighteenth and nineteenth century: for aesthetic pleasure and for spiritual insight."

Bloom is never heavy, since his vision quest contains a healthy love of irony--Jedediah Purdy, take note: "Strip irony away from reading, and it loses at once all discipline and all surprise." And this supreme critic makes us want to equal his reading prowess because he writes as well as he reads; his epigrams are equal to his opinions. He is also a master allusionist and quoter. His section on Hedda Gabler is preceded by three extraordinary statements, two from Ibsen, who insists, "There must be a troll in what I write." Who would not want to proceed? Of course, Bloom can also accomplish his goal by sheer obstinacy. As far as he is concerned, Don Quixote may have been the first novel but it remains to this day the best one. Is he perhaps tweaking us into reading this gigantic masterwork by such bald overstatement? Bloom knows full well that a prophet should stop at nothing to get his belief and love across, and throughout How to Read and Why he is as unstinting as the visionary company he adores. --Kerry Fried

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:35 -0400)

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"Bloom instructs readers in how to immerse themselves in the different literary forms." "Probing discussions of the works of writers such as William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Charles Dickens, and William Faulkner highlight the varied challenges and delights found in short stories, poems, novels, and plays. Bloom not only provides guidance on how to read a text but also illustrates what such reading can bring - aesthetic pleasure, increased individuality and self-knowledge, and the lifetime companionship of the most engaging and complex literary characters."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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