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The Saving Lie

Harold Bloom and Deconstruction

Agata Bielik-Robson

Publication Year: 2011

Harold Bloom is our greatest living literary critic. His wide-ranging critical writings have plumbed the depths of Romanticism (The Visionary Company), explored the anxiety caused by the influence of one generation of poets on another (Agon, The Anxiety of Influence), wrestled with the idea of a literary canon (The Western Canon), introduced Jacques Derrida and deconstruction to America (Deconstruction and Criticism), and explored the relationship between religion, especially Judaism, and literature (Kabbalah and Criticism, The Book of J).

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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pp. c-c

Title, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Abbreviations of Harold Bloom’s Works

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pp. ix-2

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Introduction: Life as an Argument: Harold Bloom’s Antithetical Vitalism

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pp. 3-30

If there is a slogan which captures the force of Bloom’s theoretical efforts, from his earliest works on romanticism, through his engagement with deconstruction, to his latest inquiries into the aesthetics of genius, it ought to be drawn from the marginal notes of Blake: “To Generalize is to be an Idiot. To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of...

Part I: The Antithetical Quester

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Chapter One: Life in Agon: From Romanticism to Deconstruction and Beyond

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pp. 33-74

Although Bloom considers himself to be a heir of the romantic tradition, his own understanding of this “visionary company,” which has haunted his imagination for years, is, in fact, highly revisionary. It runs completely against the popular cliché according to which romanticism was an attempt to recreate a mythical reconciliation with nature in the...

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Chapter Two: Literary Lie and Philosophical Truth: Tarrying with the Deconstruction

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pp. 75-106

In Violence and the Sacred Girard talks about rituals that go wrong: instead of appeasing the mimetic violence that every now and then seizes community and turns it into a de-differentiated mob, it merely enhances aggression and unleashes forces of destruction beyond reach and control of any ritualistic containment. Perhaps, it is a little far-fetched analogy—...

Part II: Agon with the Deadly Angels

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Chapter Three: Life and Death in Deconstruction: From Hegel to de Man

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pp. 109-188

Literary theorists often agree that Harold Bloom is somehow too idiosyncratic to be approached in what they may call a proper theoretical way. Being so contrary, almost to the point of a spitefulness that pushes him to write in spite of every possible received opinion, he puts himself in the uncomfortable position of someone who actively hinders his...

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Chapter Four: The Davharocentric Subject, or Narcissism Reconsidered: Bloom Versus Derrida

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pp. 189-228

We have examined the dangers the poetic self encounters in his potentially lethal confrontation with language, but only from the one side of this phenomenon; we showed how the deconstructive conception of writing as the “postmortal space” bars the self, as a concrete living entity, from entering the symbolic sphere. This time, however, we shall look...

Part III: Wrestling Harold

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Chapter Five: Intricate Evasions, or the Poetic Will-to-Ignorance

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pp. 231-258

We shall now resume themes we have already discussed in the first two parts, but this time develop them in Bloom’s own idiom: highly idiosyncratic, deliberately “non-angelic” and “ignoble”; deidealizing, sobering, and disenchanting, yet not for a “reducing” or deadening but a “quickening” or vitalizing purpose (MM, 65) that puts its stakes on the defenses...

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Chapter Six: Fair Crossings: From Mere Life to More Life

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pp. 259-290

Harold Bloom has never hidden his dislike for Martin Heidegger. His introduction to The Anxiety of Influence almost begins with “Heidegger, whom I cheerfully abhor” (AI, xi), and the text itself is peppered with mocking references to “Heidegger and his French flock.” Yet, as usual with Bloom, one of the most spiteful tricksters of contemporary humanities,...

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Chapter Seven: Tainted Love: A Psycho-Kabbalistic Reading of the Poetic Scene of Instruction

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pp. 291-318

The whole of Bloom’s idiom is a living confirmation of the famous apothegm of William Blake, who claimed that it is wiser to be a tiger of wrath than a horse of instruction. It is through and through militant and agonistic—yet, being so tigerlike, it cannot always successfully avoid its uneasy place of origin: the Scene of Instruction to which he, as well as...


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pp. 319-374


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pp. 375-388


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pp. 389-405

E-ISBN-13: 9780810165151
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810127289
Print-ISBN-10: 0810127288

Page Count: 416
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1
Volume Title: 1

OCLC Number: 810039462
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Saving Lie

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Deconstruction.
  • Literature -- History and criticism -- Theory, etc.
  • Criticism -- United States -- History -- 20th century
  • Bloom, Harold.
  • Romanticism.
  • Jews -- Intellectual life.
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