Possessed by Memory: The Inward Light of Criticism
Whether or not you have agreed with his critical observations over the years, it is hard to begrudge a man in his late eighties a last, sweeping look at the literature that has moved him throughout his life. Harold Bloom’s latest book, Possessed by Memory may not be the easiest work to navigate, but it offers a reward to the dedicated reader who sticks with it.
Though Possessed by Memory cannot strictly be called a memoir, the elements of the private life of the writer that pepper the pages are present enough to make it a deeply personal work, perhaps the most illuminating of the critic’s life thus far. It is Bloom’s fascination with memory—what haunts and heals us, what drives and draws us—that shapes the book, be it a memory influenced by a particular work or a work that gives rise to the memory, and it is that fascination that is universal regardless of whether a reader is familiar with the core text about which he is writing or not.
Bloom reminds us of the ways literature can transform and inform our lives, and Possessed by Memory is a small glimpse into the way it has shaped his. It is brilliant, vast, and well worth the time it takes to sort through his varied critical takes.
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