The Shadow of a Great Rock

A Literary Appreciation of the King James Bible

Harold Bloom

View Inside Price: $17.00


October 9, 2012
256 pages, 5 3/16 x 8
ISBN: 9780300187946
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth
e-book

A richly insightful reading of the King James Bible as a literary masterwork, published for the text's 400-year anniversary

The King James Bible stands at "the sublime summit of literature in English," sharing the honor only with Shakespeare, Harold Bloom contends in the opening pages of this illuminating literary tour. Distilling the insights acquired from a significant portion of his career as a brilliant critic and teacher, he offers readers at last the book he has been writing "all my long life," a magisterial and intimately perceptive reading of the King James Bible as a literary masterpiece.

Bloom calls it an "inexplicable wonder" that a rather undistinguished group of writers could bring forth such a magnificent work of literature, and he credits William Tyndale as their fountainhead. Reading the King James Bible alongside Tyndale's Bible, the Geneva Bible, and the original Hebrew and Greek texts, Bloom highlights how the translators and editors improved upon—or, in some cases, diminished—the earlier versions. He invites readers to hear the baroque inventiveness in such sublime books as the Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and Job, and alerts us to the echoes of the King James Bible in works from the Romantic period to the present day. Throughout, Bloom makes an impassioned and convincing case for reading the King James Bible as literature, free from dogma and with an appreciation of its enduring aesthetic value.

Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University. He lives in New Haven, CT.

“A fascinating, intellectually nimble tour de force.”—Yvonne Zipp, Washington Post

Booklist, named A Top 10 Book in Religion and Spirituality, 11/15/2011

“Exhilarating, provocative." —Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times

 “Bloom yields to the KJB’s literary splendor—and invites readers to join in his surrender.”—Booklist, starred review

“Just fascinating, brilliant, and reliably Bloomsian.”— Mark Sarvas, The Elegant Variation

"Bloom . . . has many arresting things to say and says them, often, with exquisite precision.  He is, by any reckoning, one of the most stimulating literary presences of the last half-century - and one of the most protean, a singular breed of scholar-teacher-critic-prose-poet-pamphleteer."—Sam Tanenhaus, New York Times Book Review

“Bloom reveals his own magisterial, sometimes mischievous, self in his meditations on the masters with whom he connects.”—Iain Finlayson, The Times

“Ah, then there’s Harold Bloom, America’s giant of a literary critic. . . . In The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life, Bloom pulls off a masterly connecting of the dots through the literary canon and his own life with his usual breathtaking eloquence.”—Publishers Weekly

"Bloom’s erudite mix of acerbic judgments (e.g., the New Testament's literary ugliness) and awed delight ('the biblical David is an incarnate poem') offers readers a fresh take on an old book."—Publishers Weekly

“Bloom moves adroitly between the KJB and the earlier translations of Tyndale and Coverdale....Readers also benefit from illuminating comparisons with the Geneva Bible (which the KJB supplanted), with the Tanakh (or Hebrew Bible), and with the Greek New Testament, so acquiring a deep appreciation for the compelling narrative the KJB delivers....Bloom yields to the KJB’s literary splendor—and invites readers to join in his surrender.”—Booklist, starred review

“The greatest strength of Bloom's volume comes in helping the reader navigate to, and through, the finest literary passages of the Bible; explaining how the ancient verses have influenced the past four centuries of Western literature.”—Deseret News

“[A] product of decades of thought, this is an old man’s book – wise while verging on the sentimental, pared down yet also self-indulgent, sometimes belligerent or desperate – whose overarching message should resonate nevertheless with readers of all generations.”—Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times

“The book is invigorated by a passion. Bloom is evangelical on the genius of the King James Bible. He is excellent on the contribution of William Tyndale, “the authentic genius of English Bible Translation”. He can be brilliantly perceptive on the “erotic magnetism” of Esther or flawed heroism of David. His brisk run through the prophets is fun and often convincing. “Jonah is a sulking, unwilling prophet, cowardly and petulant,” he writes. “Elijah and Elisha are savage, Jeremiah is a bipolar depressive, Ezekiel a madman.”—Hugh MacDonald, Sunday Herald (Scotland)

“Exhilarating, provocative. . . . Bloom [enriches] his remarks with lively associations and frequent references to his beloved Shakespeare (did you know that Hamlet's divided personality has much in common with King David's?). . . . When [Bloom] praises the English translators of John's Gospel, he calls their interpretation ‘dazzling in its audacity.’ The same, of course, can be said of this book.”—Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times

“Bloom celebrates King James not for anything so pedestrian as ‘accuracy’ but for what he himself has championed during his long and distinguished career as a literary critic: creative misreading.”—Edward Alexander, Chicago Jewish Star

One of the United States' most high-profile literary critics, Bloom self-identifies as "a Jew of Gnostic tendencies who neither trusts in the Covenant nor shares Christian faith in the Resurrection", and who sees Shakespeare as more of a god than God. One would, therefore, expect his take on the King James Bible to be studiedly provocative, and he does not disappoint."

"The dean of US lit crit tackles ‘the sublime summit of literature in English.’"—Christopher Hirst, The Independent (Radar)

"This astringent study of the King James Bible finds [Bloom] in provocative form… [His] readings are passionate, personal and highly partial… But over and over again, as in his recreation of the extraordinary scene depicted in Exodus 24, he hits the hermeneutical jackpot."—Arminta Wallace, Irish Times

"[A] lively and provocative study, blending learned insights with irreverent asides."—Sally Cousins, The Sunday Telegraph

"Distilling the insights acquired from his long career as a brilliant critic and teacher, Harold Bloom offers . . . a magisterial and intimately perceptive reading of the King James Bible as a literary masterpiece."—Bible Review Journal
The Tempest

First Edition

William Shakespeare; Fully annotated, with an Introduction,

...
View details
Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare; Fully annotated, with an introduction,

...
View details
Henry the Fourth, Part One

William Shakespeare; Fully annotated, with an Introduction,

...
View details
Twelfth Night

or, What You Will

William Shakespeare; Edited, fully annotated, and introduce

...
View details
The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare; Fully Annotated, with an Introduction,

...
View details
The Iceman Cometh

Eugene O'Neill; With a Foreword by Harold Bloom

View details