The prolific critic Bloom (Shakespeare, 1998, etc.) has courted controversy in the last few years with his denunciations of the politically correct “School of Resentment” that now dominates most universities—and he has not been discreet in his attacks on many of the writers (such as Toni Morrison) that this school holds in highest esteem. Here, he carries his arguments to an even more fundamental level, demanding that we consider what the point and purpose of literature can be in an age where information has gone far beyond the verbal forms in which literature subsides. “Information is endlessly available to us,” he points out, “where shall wisdom be found?” Naturally, Bloom finds it in the great writers of the Western tradition, and he proceeds to tell us just how great they (i.e., Hemingway, Shakespeare, Faulkner, Austen, Dickens, Chekhov, Cervantes, etc.) are—and why. As with most of Bloom’s more recent works, the great controversy here is not what he says, but whom he chooses to say it about, and the many debates that he will set off are likely not to get past his table of contents. Which will be a pity, frankly, because Bloom’s insights into just about anything can be worth all of his postures.
A molehill of old lectures—some of them brilliant, all of them at least worth skimming through—that will probably get made into a mountain of academic politics.