The American Canon: Literary Genius from Emerson to Pynchon

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If I were a pencil, I would have to be sharpened before taking on the effort of reading through these essays of literary criticism. The essays range from Emerson to Pynchon and are as erudite as one would expect from a Yale professor. This reader will certainly take Bloom’s recommendations on works I have not read by some of my favorite authors and am grateful for having them brought to my attention. It was a slog to get through the author’s dense academic writing style and to try to determine how his opinions were derived. For example, what makes Bloom choose Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon over Beloved? These arbitrary selections diminish the full scope of an author’s total literary heritage. The essay on Hawthorne also seems incomplete.

In all, Bloom looks at selected works of forty-seven American authors. While his blurb cites him as the greatest student of literature, this reader would hope for a more complete and rounded look at an author’s work.

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Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 427 pages
Publisher Library of America
Publish Date 2019-10-15
ISBN 9781598536409 Buy this Book
Issue December 2019
Category Books About Books


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