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This article is taken from PN Review 212, Volume 39 Number 6, July - August 2013.

Agon Unbound: Harold Bloom, The Anatomy of Influence Nick Liptrot
HAROLD BLOOM, The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life
(Yale University Press) £25

Much for Harold Bloom has to do with one word. Though now adding up in authorship and editorship to fill hundreds of volumes, among his many words it has for many decades stood large. The word is enshrined in the title of a book he published as long ago as 1975. It is not ‘influence’, though influence has much to do with it.
Before the big word, it is worth reminding ourselves about a couple of smaller things. Bloom is big on words, big or small, that sneakily multiply their scope. Fresh evidence of this in his new book arrives in an eye-catchingly Nabokovian if also gnomic, to use another big Bloom word, aside. Noting that theory is of little relevance to American literature and its best criticism, he sharply blooms up and away into a new paragraph, gleefully riffing-fantastic upon his own numerous name:

‘Naming’ (as in Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin) is closer to the real concerns of literature. I am moved here by my own splendid name of ‘Bloom,’ particularly since my personal favorite among Whitman’s poems is ‘When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.’ Charmed as I also am by Stevensian derivatives (‘stopped / In the door-yard by his own capacious bloom’ and ‘Our bloom is gone. We are the fruit thereof’), it seems to me the most literary of names, though a price ...

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