May. 1st, 2005

rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
Oh dear, Harold Bloom is on his soapbox again. This is never a good thing. (Italicized passages are quotations from Bloom's Wall Street Journal article on Hans Christian Andersen. If you click, you might discover that Bloom has two different spellings for "Andersen". You might also find smoke coming out of your ears. Be warned.)

I myself see no distinction between children's literature and good or great writing for extremely intelligent children of all ages.

So far, so good.

J.K. Rowling and Stephen King are equally bad writers, appropriate titans of our new Dark Age of the Screens: computer, motion pictures, TV.

...I admit that there are many better writers out there in the universe than J.K. Rowling, but Professor Bloom, sir, does the phrase "Dark Tower" mean anything to you?

Outside of Browning and Shakespeare, that is?

Also, Dark Age of the Screens? Professor Bloom, I sit at the computer for hours to read Middle English poetry. I am sure you would not be quite so pleased by some of the other things I read when I sit at the computer for hours, but really, now! Think of the vast quantity of text we are lucky enough to have in this century. Certainly, not all of it is high-quality. Nevertheless, there is quantitatively more high-quality literature, film and drama available today to the average person than there ever was in any other time in the history of the world. Much of this literature, film and drama appears on the Internet. I can't imagine what you mean by "Dark Age."

One goes on urging children of all ages to read and reread Andersen and Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, rather than Ms. Rowling and Mr. King. Sometimes when I say that in public I am asked: Is it not better to read Ms. Rowling and Mr. King, and then go on to Andersen, Dickens, Carroll and Lear? The answer is pragmatic: Our time here is limited. You necessarily read and reread at the expense of other books.

I have read works by Andersen, Dickens, Carroll, Lear, Rowling and King. All but Carroll and Lear I have read in the last two years. I do not feel that I have sacrificed precious Dickens reading time by devouring all seven Dark Tower novels within a month.

That said, I have sacrificed a precious ten minutes of my life reading your appreciation of Hans Christian Andersen today. Our time here on Earth is too limited to waste it on an article containing a few ill-conceived rants about popular entertainment and quite a long discussion of Andersen's sex life. With comparisons to Michael Jackson, G-d help us.

Thank you, Professor Bloom.


rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)

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