Harold Bloom, literary critic, dies at 89.

Harold Bloom, according to today’s New York Times, was frequently called the most notorious literary critic in America. Read this for a detailed account of his life and work. He thought Shakespeare was a god and that god was a literary invention written by an anonymous woman he referred to as “J”.

I interviewed him in 2011 on the publication of The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life. As he said: “ I really am the pariah of my profession in the English-speaking world.” It was one of the last of my interviews for The Book Show and one of the most memorable.  Here is the transcript.

Ramona Koval: Having just celebrated his 81st birthday on Monday, Professor Harold Bloom, is often named as the most influential literary critic in the world.  For Harold Bloom, literature has indeed been part of almost every waking and sometimes even sleeping moment. Some of his 38 books include The Western Canon, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, and The Book of J, as well as his pioneering study The Anxiety of Influence which appeared almost 40 years ago.

The man who calls himself ‘a bardolator’ for his devotion to the works of Shakespeare, and who pleads guilty to the charge of being an incessant canoniser, and yet regards himself as a common reader, joins me from his home in Connecticut USA. Welcome to The Book Show Harold Bloom.

Harold Bloom: Thank you very much Ramona dear.

Ramona Koval: You say when you were very young freedom beckoned through the poets you first loved, and they gave you a sense of freedom, they conferred on you a real liberation. Can you talk a bit about that? What sort of freedom can a poet give you?

Harold Bloom: Well, I grew up in a loving but very poor household. I mean by poor not in terms of happiness, we had a devoted mother and father and I was the last of five children, but I was born in the old East Bronx to a Yiddish speaking family on July 11th, 1930 in the height of the great American depression, and my father, though a skilled garment worker, was out of work. It was something of a struggle. And in a relatively small apartment one did feel cooped up at times, and the streets of the East Bronx were frequently not very safe because frankly there was a Nazi organisation as it turned out, affiliated to Joe McWilliams and the Silver Shirts who were all thrown into jail when the United States was attacked by the Japanese on December 7th 1941, and subsequently declared war on Nazi Germany and fascist Italy also. But they used to go after us with baseball bats and it was a rather harsh environment.

But I started reading initially Yiddish poetry when I was about…I taught myself actually to read Yiddish, which I spoke anyway of course, it was the mother tongue, the mame loshn for me when I was about three-and-a-half or four. And the earliest poetry I remember…and I still have it by heart because then, as now, I have a preternatural memory for poetry and indeed sometimes for heightened prose and an astonishing reading rate which has never really changed. I started to read the Yiddish poets, in particular, Jacob Glatstein and, my particular favourite, Moyshe-Leyb Halpern.

But then I taught myself (which is why my pronunciation has always been so idiosyncratic) to read English when I was about five-and-a-half, six years old, before I went off to kindergarten where in fact they began to speak English around me and I heard it for the first time. I started reading poetry almost immediately, and among the earliest poets whom I remember were really rather simple ones, though beautiful, like AE Housman, some of the border ballads and some Shakespearean songs. But I gradually began to read Shakespeare. I still remember my first reading of Julius Caesar and of Macbeth, which terrified me. By then I must have been eight or nine or so.

And then I went on to read Milton and discovered modern poetry. And then a very great moment for me, in some ways more determinating even than Shakespeare was when, at the age of ten at the Melrose branch of the Bronx Library where I had been taken by my three older sisters, I opened The Collected Poems of Hart Crane and was utterly fascinated by the rhetoric and the vision and the whole glory of it and fell in love with Crane’s poetry. I took the book out incessantly from the Melrose branch. And at my request for my 12th birthday my oldest sister Esther, who alas died recently, the last of my living siblings, she was about 94 or 95, she gave me for my 12th birthday The Collected Poems of Hart Crane, the earliest book I ever owned and still with me up in my study on the third floor of this huge old house where my wife and I have lived for half a century now out of our 53 years of marriage.

Ramona Koval: And of the freedom that you tasted, what sort of freedom did you..?

Harold Bloom: Well, the freedom, to use an old-fashioned term but the only term really we have for it, of the capacious imagination, the Shakespearean imagination, but for me filtered through Hart Crane who was intensely interested in Shakespeare, who wrote a very fine sonnet to Shakespeare, who was obsessed with The Tempest, as I am now, this chapter on The Tempest in this Anatomy of Influence book…freedom to suggest a sense of something ever more about to be, a sense…and these are highfalutin terms but, again, they’re the only ones really available…a sense of possible sublimity, a sense of a larger cosmos than otherwise one could have hoped to know.

Ramona Koval: So this journey that you took as a young child through the Yiddish poets, through the English poets, through Shakespeare, to Hart Crane when you were about 12, was it a journey that you took on your own or did someone take your hand?

Harold Bloom: No, I was an autodidact. I think I was pretty much self-taught all the way, indeed through high school, until at the age of 17, having won a special fellowship I arrived at Cornell University in Ithaca New York in September 1947 and immediately fell under the sway of a very great teacher, he was then 35, Meyer Howard Abrams, MH Abrams, a very great scholar of Romanticism and critical theory. Mike, as we all called him, and I have been close friends now for…my heavens, I was 17 then and Mike was 35, I am now…there’s an 18-year difference, I am now 81 and Mike is going on 99 and is alive and healthy and lives in Ithaca New York, and indeed last year at my request came here to Yale and actually gave a poetry reading and then made brilliant comments on the poems, but he says he can’t do that again. But if I, my dear, am still alive 18 years from now, I certainly will not be going off to another university to read poems aloud and comment upon them.

Ramona Koval: You never say never.

Harold Bloom: No dear, due to a series of somewhat debilitating mishaps and malaises I walk with a cane and with some difficulty. One of my great sorrows in fact is that through the years from an invitation from the great poet Alec Hope, AD Hope, 70 years ago, down to overtures from a very dear friend John Kinsella…I remember Les Murray also once suggesting that I come to Australia, but alas I never will get to Australia. It will always be for me what Hamlet calls the undiscovered country.

Ramona Koval: Well, you’re very much across Australia right this moment. This idea of influence has been something that has been obsessing you or involving you all your life, in a sense. And this book is called The Anatomy of Influence, it is revisiting a book called The Anxiety of Influence which, as I said, appeared about 40 years ago…

Harold Bloom: It was actually written before that (forgive me for interrupting you Ramona dear) in the summer of 1967. In fact when I woke up on the morning of my 37th birthday in the same house here in New Haven, I’d had an awful nightmare in which some great winged cherub, a negative angel, and I gradually disentangled it and got rid of the Freudian overtones of it and began to see that it was an image of what the Prophet Ezekiel and then William Blake after him had called the covering cherub, or as the Hebrew text of Ezekiel says the Cheruv Mimshok, the far-extending cherub, the terrible angel of long far-extending wings, mimshok. And he was trying to stifle me. And I came down to breakfast with my wife, the same table that I am sitting at now, and I said to Jeanne, ‘I’ve had the most terrible nightmare,’ and she looked up from the New York Times that she was reading and says, ‘Harold, don’t bring your nightmares to the breakfast table.’

So I brooded on that for a while and picked up…I’ve never learned to type even, and in the age of the computer I am more than ever a dinosaur, so I picked up what I used then, as now, a Pentel black rolling writer ballpoint pen, and one of my endless big green ledger notebooks, and started to compose a kind of mad rhapsody called ‘The Covering Cherub’ or ‘Poetic Influence’, a dithyramb, not even knowing what I was writing, a sort of wild kind of a fear. And over many years I gradually revised it to make some sense anyway, but some people would dispute that, and in January 1973 it and five other chapters and some inter-chapters and prose poems and I don’t know what else were published as this rather wild and quite short little book by the Oxford University Press in New York called The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry.

Ramona Koval: So you have puzzled over influence. I was wanting to know whether…you’re looking back at who or what was it about a certain poem or a certain piece of work that encouraged the next poet to write something different or write something in response to it?

Harold Bloom: I’ve had, as you know Ramona, really rather a preternatural memory for really great poetry in particular, it just memorises itself in me. Increasingly, although I think at first not quite consciously but quite capaciously I was gathering together on some level of apprehension in the relationship of why one poem rather than another jostled the next poem in my head. And it became clearer and clearer to me as I wrote in my early books, starting with a book published in January 1959 on Shelley, though that was mostly written back in 1954 originally as a PhD dissertation, and going on through books on Blake and a commentary on Blake and the David Erdman definitive edition of Blake, was still very much in print and a book that has never gone out of print, the book for which I was best known for a long, long time, The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry.

I gradually came to realise as I looked back on what I was doing without making the hideous mistake of taking myself too seriously which would always be a disaster, I’ve always said that I am essentially a comic critic and all I get are serious reviews and serious attacks. But I tried to see at all times the comedy of poetic influence and the comedy of being an exegete on texts that are, though secular, to me sacred texts. I seem to be emulating Yeats and that reminds me that I went on after several volumes of essays to write a very large study just called Yeats about his relationship to Blake and Shelley and the Romantic tradition in general. I think that came out in 1970 or so. And then I was hovering on the edge of the insights that led to The Anxiety of Influence which was that strong poems are really creative misreadings of precursor texts. They can be imaginary precursors, they’re usually composites.

And I used to quarrel with a later mentor, the great Northrop Frye of Toronto, author of The Fearful Symmetry, a wonderful study of William Blake and in its age a famous book called Anatomy of Criticism. I don’t actually allude to that in my title, I’m thinking of the source for both Norrie and myself (Norrie alas has gone now), Burton’s great Anatomy of Melancholy in the 17th century, a very wild and magnificent book.

In the original manuscript of what is now published as The Anatomy of Influence: A Theory of Poetry is about three times as large as it is now but we are in an age where you can’t really write enormous critical books any more. I mean, I’ve done it in the past with books like Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human and a huge book called Genius and some other works of that sort, but from now on I think books have to be shorter and I’m sure I’ll never again write another book as long. I have a book coming out in September, also with the Yale Press, since it’s the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible called The Shadow of a Great Rock, a literary appreciation of the King James Bible, but it’s only 50,000 words, not counting quotations.

Ramona Koval: I was interested…when I’m thinking about this I’m wondering whether you are looking for poetic DNA or the origins of the poetic species.

Harold Bloom: Yes, I suppose, Ramona, that would be a valid metaphor for what I’m interested in.

Ramona Koval: So, you charmingly insist that you are a common reader, even though you’ve had this marvellous autodidactic time until now. What makes you a common reader? What do you have in common with me or other readers who haven’t been reading so deeply?

Harold Bloom: Oh I have everything in common with you Ramona and with all readers throughout the world. I think my books in general, and there are now actually 41 of them or so, have been translated into more than 40 languages. The Anxiety of Influence more frequently even than The Western Canon, another very large book, but The Anxiety of Influence has been translated into 33 or 35 languages, I can’t keep count and they don’t always send me…including languages that I simply cannot read, Albanian and Turkish and Farsi and so on.

The phrase of course, before Virginia Woolf, marvellous writer as she was and marvellous literary critic of course, popularised it, was invented by my great critical hero, Dr Samuel Johnson, who said that it is by the judgements of the common reader that we must finally decide what is and what is not authentic high literature which will survive and go on from one age to another and do some good. Johnson has always been my critical hero in the sense that Shakespeare and Wallace Stevens and Yeats and Hart Crane and Milton and so many more, Chaucer, have been my poetic heroes. Johnson taught me…and I read Johnson again every week and I have much of Johnson by heart…Johnson in the Lives of the Poets and his great edition of Shakespeare, a wonderful general introduction, Johnson says that’s a function of criticism is to transmute or convert opinion into knowledge. In my modest way I tried to be Johnson.

Ramona Koval: This idea of you memorising things and having things by heart, I read in the book that you…it was partly with all of these poems in your head clashing or echoing each other that made you think that they had images of the previous poems. It was partly the repetition in your head.

Harold Bloom: I think that is true probably to some degree, but also possession by memory is a very crucial matter. I myself, since I go on teaching full-time at Yale, I always give one…I’ve given up teaching graduate students because I am alienated from all of these movements that have politicised criticism and from cultural politics of all kinds which I simply can’t abide, what I call the school of resentment and I have characterised them as a rabblement of lemmings running down to drown themselves in the waters…

Ramona Koval: Are they still there though? I thought that their time had passed, the post-modernists.

Harold Bloom: Well, I’m afraid I count the sub-Marxists…I myself, as I have always said, am the true Marxist critic, following Groucho Marx rather than Karl, and I stick with that still. My two great models as a critic, when they don’t come from Dr Johnson, come from Groucho Marx with his ‘I wouldn’t be a member of any club that would have me for a member’, and the other is ‘Whatever it is, I’m against it’. And I think all critics…and critics should be common readers, and common readers in some sense have to be critics. In any case, I always teach two seminars of a dozen undergraduates each, very carefully selected because there are so many applicants, and I try to be fair but I also want people who I think will benefit most by it.

And one discussion group is always on Shakespeare and the other is on how to read poems, and I have the students…the normal procedure I have followed and I’ve worked it out through the years and it works perfectly now I think, for one thing it makes me shut up and I have a tendency to talk too much, as I’m talking too much in this interview dear Ramona, I tell them that possession by memory is a really crucial matter and that the only way to do it is to go off by yourself quietly and read it out loud to yourself again and again until it enters you.

People underestimate how important memory is for thinking of any kind. I mean, we all try to live in democracies, I greatly fear that the United States increasingly is not a democracy, it shows every sign of becoming an oligarchy, a plutocracy, and alas a theocracy. The Tea Party fascists are enveloping us and I really fear for the future of this nation, in which case I fear for the future of the world, and I blame it on ignorance, I blame it on the fact that people have forgotten how to read. If you remember the best that has been written, the best that has been said, if you read the best and hold onto it, then you will think better and more clearly because without memory there is no clear thinking, and without clear thinking there can be no democracy.

Ramona Koval: So there’s such a lot that might be lost with modern technology, not just to memorise things but the kinds of things that memorising things leads to.

Harold Bloom: What I increasingly feel, Ramona…Gertrude Stein said wonderfully ‘One writes for oneself and for strangers’…I try not to write for anyone I actually know, including my own students, I think I have by now 35,000 or 40,000 former students…after all, I’m going to be starting my 56th consecutive year of teaching full-time at Yale, and I taught for 20 years authorised moonlighting at New York University and I’ve taught many times at the University of Bologna and the University of Rome in Italy and other universities abroad and here at home. One writes for oneself and for strangers, I write for the common readers, wherever they are, and I visualise them as people of all ages but I hope particularly younger people who really have a deep calling to read. Solitary readers, I would call them, who wish to go apart and read for themselves, who are tired of the drone of the media in their ears, are tired of visual over-stimulation. We live in a culture where people are forgetting how to read because between the television screen and the computer screen and the motion picture screen, reading and thinking are being drubbed out, are being pulverised, and it’s a very terrible kind of thing.

Ramona Koval: Yes. I wonder what teaching young students like that…do they teach you anything, or are you only teaching them things? What do they teach you?

Harold Bloom: Oh no, I wouldn’t go on teaching, after all I am 81 and my health is not as good and I’m not strong anymore, but no, I go on teaching because they educate me. One of my discussion groups or any one of them begins with my asking particular students to read a poem or a Shakespearean soliloquy or a speech or a passage out loud, and then for her or him to comment on what they have just read, and then I encourage the other students to get involved and I lean back and listen to them speak to one another. And I speak only when spoken to or when I feel I might help a little in directing it, but I no longer blather at them the way I did when I was young and middle-aged or even in early old age. Now that I am so considerably older I want to listen to them, I want to listen to them in a way in which very gently they are guided to speak at their best really.

Ramona Koval: You also wrote that you learned that your function is to help the reader or help the student get lost.

Harold Bloom: Yes. I think get lost but only in a kind of tropological or metaphorical sense, lost in the sense of getting away from the excessive stimuli of the media, this endless noise with which they are assaulted, asking them to go apart and read for themselves. And I really don’t distinguish between the readers I seem to have all over the world (and I’m very grateful for that) whom I will never meet. I can’t handle the letters I get, I can’t handle the thousands of emails, I just have to hope that they will be patient with me and not think that I’m not moved. I even get telephone calls from young people all over the world in particular whom I’ve never met and never will meet, and at times it’s exhausting, and of course there is also the flood of unsolicited manuscripts which is just too much for me, I can’t deal with that, I wouldn’t be able to do my own work or live my own life.

But I don’t distinguish between these unknown readers around the world, and indeed in my own country, in whatever language that I’m translated into, I don’t distinguish between them and the students I have taught in the past or whom I will have teaching me and I’ll be teaching them this coming autumn.

Ramona Koval: You speak of it…it sounds lovely to be in a class with you, to be learning. But I was also surprised that…you also talk about literary friendships of course, but also enemies that you have made. How is it possible to be such a passionate enemy in the field of literature?

Harold Bloom: I really am the pariah of my profession in the English-speaking world. I resigned from the English Department where I had been a faculty member from 1955 on. In 1976 I went to the acting president and provost of Yale, Hanna Gray, and petitioned the Yale Corporation, that is to say the trustees through her, to release me from the Department of English and I haven’t been a Professor of English since then. I’m a non-department of one, with the president of Yale, whoever it is at a particular time, now it’s a very splendid president, Rick Levin, as my chair. And I have no colleagues. Sometimes it’s lonesome. I’m the Sterling Professor of the Humanities but there’s no department of the humanities. There is a centre for the humanities and so on, but I can’t even be there anymore because the stairs are too hard for me to climb. So I’m isolated at Yale and have been for a very long time now, except in terms of my students.

Ramona Koval: What do you think the nub of the issue has been?

Harold Bloom: Well, it’s been a whole series of things. Initially it was the school of TS Eliot, the Yale and other new critical disciples of TS Eliot, a great poet but I think a vicious and nasty literary critic and cultural polemicist and, it’s not too much to say, a professional anti-Semite whom I hold in the greatest contempt, though alas a great poet I would reluctantly have to concede since I think I know all of the great poetry by heart, but that doesn’t mean I like him or ever could like him. He’s dead a long time now of course. But the school of Eliot which despised the Romantic poets, despised Walt Whitman, despised Hart Crane, denigrated Wallace Stevens, didn’t feel that Blake was a poet or Shelley was a poet, I fought them tooth and nail at Yale and elsewhere.

And by the time they were vanquished I had a new set of enemies, most of whom were my personal friends, the school of deconstruction, the late Paul de Man, the late Jacques Derrida, the still living J Hillis Miller and Geoffrey Hartman, all my good friends, and I got confused with them sometimes but I was never a deconstructionist, not now, not then, never would be. I didn’t believe that you could reduce literature to perpetual ironies, as my friend Paul de Man likes to say, the permanent parabasis of meaning which he followed, Friedrich Schlegel.

And then when I was done battling them and they had one way or another vanished, then came the major struggle of my life. From 1968 on, the great Cultural Revolution swept over the entire world, born out of something very worthwhile indeed, student and humane revulsion to the horrors of the dreadful fascist American war against the Vietnamese. I wish to make something very clear, I am a lifelong democratic socialist, I am not a conservative, I’m not a cultural conservative, I’m anything but a political conservative, I loathe political conservatism and religious conservatism.

But nevertheless, I do believe in cognitive and aesthetic values and I’ve had to fight an endless guerrilla war now for more than 40 years against the flood tide which is still now only beginning to subside, people who tried to convince themselves and others that skin pigmentation, sexual orientation, gender, ethnic origins were what mattered about deciding what was or what was not worth reading. I found that obscene and still do, but I have made more vitriolic enemies in that camp than any other. Mind you, authentic feminism and authentic feminist literary criticism, I not only believe in both but I fathered feminist literary criticism, as my friends Susan Gubar and Sandra Gilbert, or indeed my dear student Camille Paglia will more than testify. But what I call the feministas, whether in…I couldn’t call it literary criticism, I think that so-called feminist literary criticism is like the Holy Roman Empire, neither holy nor Roman nor an empire, in the same way feminist literary criticism is not feminist, it is not literary, and it’s certainly not criticism, as it is usually practised, I’m not talking about Gilbert and Gubar, I’m not talking about Elaine Showalter and other people with minds, I’m talking about the rabblement, as I call them, the rabblement of lemmings again.

But I think there’s a lot of resentment of me in Australia among pseudo-Marxists, not true Groucho Marxists like myself, inheritors of Dr Leavis dreadful tradition and so forth. But I don’t want to get into these polemics, you know, I’m 81 years old and counting, and there’s no point my getting involved in further polemics. As the great Karl Marx, with whom I have no quarrel with Marx himself, said, ‘Let the dead bury the dead’.

Ramona Koval: But you seem to be the last man standing here.

Harold Bloom: Well, for now. But I will too go under, my dear. As I say at one point, we will be mixed together in our common dust.

Ramona Koval: You’re writing a memoir now I understand.

Harold Bloom: I’m writing a book called The Hum of Thoughts Evaded in the Mind, which is a literary memoir, it won’t talk about my splendid wife or my two sons or most of my friends, unless they are literary friends. But on the model of Wordsworth, the prelude, which certainly sounds very pretentious and I don’t mean to be pretentious, I am not William Wordsworth nor was meant to be, I’m merely an exegete, but the growth of the critic’s mind you might call it. It will involve a lot of people who have meant a great deal to me as human beings, the wonderful late English novelist and general roustabout Anthony Burgess whom I miss almost every day, and George Wilson Knight, G Wilson Knight who meant a great deal to me personally, a wonderful critic of Shakespeare and of the Romantic poets, and Kenneth Burke who really became my true critical mentor or father, I miss Kenneth very much, he died at a vast old age when he was 97, also some years ago. So I will talk about my relation to them and others, and of course all the poets I have been close to and the novelists and the dramatists and fellow critics and so on.

Ramona Koval: In your book you ask yourself questions like what is the end of a literary life, and you talk about this book being your swansong, this book The Anatomy of Influence

Harold Bloom: Well, it’s a swansong in terms of the whole subject that has obsessed me long before I even wrote the first draft of The Anxiety of Influence in the summer of 1967 and in a sense has obsessed me since I was a little child. But that’s over now, I don’t think after this book I have anything more to say about what I now would call literary love tempered by ambivalence, which is my final definition of what I used to call the anxiety of influence.

Ramona Koval: ‘Love tempered by ambivalence’? It seems a contradiction.

Harold Bloom: Think of the fact that, Ramona, we love our husbands and wives or, depending on our sexual orientation, our partners of one kind or another, we love our parents and our relatives and our close friends and our own children and grandchildren, and it didn’t take Freud to teach us that. Shakespeare, who precedes Freud in every respect, teaches us that, that there is always an ambivalent underflow. You make so heavy, as Freud says, einsetzung, an investment in others. Some element in your own ego, your own deep self rebels against, and you have to watch that, and I think that is the phenomenon that is involved in the influence process.

People cannot become poets or indeed strong writers, novelists, critics, essayists, dramatists, story writers unless they first fall in love with great precursor figures, who can be contemporary with them in fact. But as they develop they have to find their own space by trying to see what the distance and difference might be, which makes their own work necessary and justified.

Ramona Koval: Harold Bloom, it’s been a great pleasure speaking with you today.

Harold Bloom: I’m sorry that it’s over. I have this infinite regret…I love Australian poetry, from Judith Wright and Alec Hope on through our great contemporaries, Les Murray and John Kinsella among others, there are many more. Indeed I’m haunted by the wonderful Australian communist poet John Manifold, a poet of World War Two, I suppose he must dead many years now, but I remember loving his poetry when I was a little boy. I can never get out of my head a wonderful little poem that he wrote called ‘Fife Tune’ when he and his Australian brigade were going off to fight in Western Europe. Do you know the poem?

Ramona Koval: I don’t.

Harold Bloom: It’s a lovely poem.

One morning in spring
We marched from Devizes
All shapes and all sizes
Like beads on a string,
But yet with a swing
We trod the bluemetal
And full of high fettle
We started to sing.

She ran down the stair
A twelve-year-old darling
And laughing and calling
She tossed her bright hair;
Then silent to stare
At the men flowing past her—
There were all she could master
Adoring her there.

It’s seldom I’ll see
A sweeter or prettier;
I doubt we’ll forget her
In two years or three,
And lucky he’ll be
She takes for a lover
While we are far over
The treacherous sea.

That’s a marvellous…I wish more contemporary Australians knew John Manifold but he was a communist, a rather fierce communist, but a fighting communist and an anti-fascist, and not a great poet. You can hear the influence of AE Housman on him even in that poem, but a very fine poet. Well, bless you Ramona, I’m sorry this is over.

Ramona Koval: Harold Bloom, it’s been a great pleasure, thank you so much for bringing us John Manifold back again and in such a fantastic way.

Harold Bloom: And congratulations, my dear, on your latest grandchild.

Ramona Koval: Grandchildren, yes, twins, thank you Harold.

Harold Bloom: Oh I didn’t know they were twins…two boys?

Ramona Koval: One of each.

Harold Bloom: Oh how wonderful, how wonderful for you. Bless you Ramona, goodbye my dearest, goodbye.

Ramona Koval: Goodbye Harold, thank you so much. And The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life is published by Yale University Press.



  1. Ai wish we could still hear you conduct such brilliant interviews, Ramona. Vale Harold Bloom.

    1. Thanks Dina for your kind words. I occasionally still do public interviews and post them here. My time is now mostly devoted to my own writing and my new book will be published in mid 2020.

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