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In arguably his most personal and lasting book, America s most daringly original and controversial critic gives us brief, luminous readings of more than eighty texts by canonical authors-- texts he has had by heart since childhood. Gone are the polemics. Here, instead, in a memoir of sorts--an inward journey from childhood to ninety--Bloom argues elegiacally with nobody but Bloom, interested only in the influence of the mind upon itself when it absorbs the highest and most enduring imaginative literature. He offers more than eighty meditations on poems and prose that have haunted him since childhood and which he has possessed by memory: from the Psalms and Ecclesiastes to Shakespeare and Dr. Johnson; Spenser and Milton to Wordsworth and Keats; Whitman and Browning to Joyce and Proust; Tolstoy and Yeats to Delmore Schwartz and Amy Clampitt; Blake to Wallace Stevens--and so much more. And though he has written before about some of these authors, these exegeses, written in the winter of his life, are movingly informed by "the freshness of last things." As Bloom writes movingly: "One of my concerns throughout Possessed by Memory is with the beloved dead. Most of my good friends in my generation have departed. Their voices are still in my ears. I find that they are woven into what I read. I listen not only for their voices but also for the voice I heard before the world was made. My other concern is religious, in the widest sense. For me poetry and spirituality fuse as a single entity. All my long life I have sought to isolate poetic knowledge. This also involves a knowledge of God and gods. I see imaginative literature as a kind of theurgy in which the divine is summoned, maintained, and augmented."

About the Author

Harold Bloom--who died in 2019--was a Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and a former Charles Eliot rton Professor at Harvard. His more than forty books include The Anxiety of Influence, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, The Western Canon, The American Religion, and The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime. He was a MacArthur Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism, the Catalonia International Prize, and Mexico s Alfonso Reyes International Prize.

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