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university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 3, summer 2004 Review >Resentment-Pipers=: The Case of Harold Bloom linda munk Harold Bloom, Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds New York: Warner Books 2002. 814. $33.00 I have spent my life teaching literature, and increasingly I have become surrounded by academic imposters who call themselves >cultural critics.= They are nothing of the sort: they are resentment-pipers. Harold Bloom, Genius (2002) From street to street he piped advancing, And step for step they followed dancing, Until they came to the river Weser Wherein all plunged and perished! B Save one who, stout as Julius Caesar, Swam across and lived to carry (As he, the manuscript he cherished) To Rat-land home his commentary. Robert Browning, >The Pied Piper of Hamelin= Everyone has, or should have, a desert island list against that day when, fleeing one=s enemies one is cast ashore ... Harold Bloom, The Western Canon (1994) We begin in 1992, the year Bloom published The American Religion: Moral criticism, political criticism, social criticism have now usurped the place of the aesthetic in what passes for literary criticism in our academies. The function of religious criticism at the present time is to keep the spiritual in religion from following the aesthetic in literature into the discard trays of the politically correct School of Resentment. Anti-intellectualism pervades American political, social, and moral life, and its answering chorus is the political correctness of the academic pseudo-Left. >resentment-pipers=: the case of harold bloom 935 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 3, summer 2004 Bloom=s phrasing (>have now usurped the place of=) invokes Emerson=s >Divinity School Address=: >The idioms of his [Jesus Christ=s] language, and the figures of his rhetoric, have usurped the place of his truth; and churches are not built on his principles, but on his tropes.= In Bloom=s case, the >dogmas= of the >School of Resentment= and its followers, >the rabblement of lemmings who now dominate American campuses,= have usurped >the place of the aesthetic=; and departments of literature are built on >the overdeterminations of race, class, and gender.= Lemmings, Arctic rodents about six inches long, are remarkable for their >prolific character= and their annual migration to the sea (OED). The School of Resentment is composed of six >branches,= we read in The Western Canon (1994): >Feminists, Marxists, Lacanians, New Historicists, Deconstructionists, Semioticians.= I am not concerned ... with the current debate between the right-wing defenders of the Canon, who wish to preserve it for its supposed (and nonexistent) moral values, and the academic-journalistic network I have dubbed the School of Resentment, who wish to overthrow the Canon in order to advance their supposed (and nonexistent) programs for social change. We meet up with >the rabblement of lemmings,= who one day >will cease to hurl themselves off the cliffs= and into the sea. In the mean time, >Shakespeare criticism is in full flight from his aesthetic supremacy and works at reducing him to the Asocial energies@ of the English Renaissance.= The School of Resentment is compelled by its dogmas to regard aesthetic supremacy, particularly in Shakespeare=s instance, as a prolonged cultural conspiracy undertaken to protect the political and economic interests of mercantile Great Britain from the eighteenth century until today. ... One sees why Foucault has won such favor with apostles of Resentment; he replaces the canon with the metaphor he calls the library, which dissolves hierarchies. Reading Alice Walker=s novel Meridian for the second time, Bloom had an >epiphany.= There is a >correct test for the new canonicity= (for the counter-canon, >resentment=s alternative to the Canon=): >it must not and cannot be reread, because its contribution to societal progress is its generosity in offering itself up for rapid ingestion and discarding.= The deepest cut is the word societal.) And yet and yet, a counted number of pulses only is given to us ... As there is only so much time, do we reread Elizabeth Bishop or Adrienne Rich? Do I again go in search of lost time with Marcel Proust, or am I to attempt yet xxxxxxxxx 936 linda munk university of toronto quarterly, volume 73...


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