THE ANXIETY OF INFLUENCE

A THEORY OF POETRY

Professor Bloom (Yale; author of Blake's Apocalypse, 1963, and Yeats, 1970) interprets modern poetic history — the history of poetry in a Cartesian climate — in terms of Freud's "family romance," and advances creative anxiety as its motive principle. The poet's anxiety in the face of a strong predecessor is, in other words, an extreme version of the son's dubious regard for the father; and influence, far from a benign legacy of images and ideas, is a threat of death, smothering his desire and locking his rightful present up in the past. Bloom's emblem for it is the Covering Cherub of Blake and Ezekiel, while the prototype of the poet is Milton's Satan who rises to proclaim a good of his own — only after hitting the floor of the abyss. Each poet must create himself in a kind of damned antithesis to the parent poet and, turning from the language of revelation toward a more phenomenological analysis, Bloom identifies six phases in the process — beginning with a misreading of the forerunner, proceeding through the "revisionary ratios" of self-assertion, and ending in an embrace that is both surrender and appropriation. All this is put forth in support of an "antithetical practical criticism" which Bloom proposes as a corrective to the "tautological" and "reductive" methods now in use. The meaning of a poem, he suggests, is neither itself nor something outside poetry, but a precursor's poem. While he perhaps carries the idea a bit far, its advantages are self-evident in regard to such contemporaries as Ashbery and Ammons. Yet we are not entirely convinced by the author's insistence that his "interests are those of the practical critic"; there is a brooding, obsessive brilliance in the scholarship, in the convening of Blakean third parties (Sphinx, Muse, Tharmas), that indicates a combat of Bloom's own with the Cherub. Imposing, daemonic and — it seems so incidental — written with a mighty adversative flair.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 1972

ISBN: 0195112210

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

more