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Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles

The Power of the Reader’s Mind over a Universe of Death

Harold Bloom

View Inside Price: $35.00


October 13, 2020
672 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300247282
Hardcover

The last book written by the most famous literary critic of his generation, on the sustaining power of poetry

This dazzling celebration of the power of poetry to sublimate death—completed weeks before Harold Bloom’s passing—shows how literature renews life amid what Milton called “a universe of death.“ Bloom reads as a way of taking arms against the sea of life’s troubles, taking readers on a grand tour of the poetic voices that have haunted him through a lifetime of reading. “High literature,” he writes, “is a saving lie against time, loss of individuality, premature death.” In passages of breathtaking intimacy, we see him awake late at night, reciting lines from Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Montaigne, Blake, Wordsworth, Hart Crane, Jay Wright, and many others. He feels himself “edged by nothingness,” uncomprehending, but still sustained by reading. Generous and clear-eyed, this is among Harold Bloom’s most ambitious and most moving books.

Harold Bloom (1930–2019) was an American literary critic and Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University. His books include The Anatomy of Influence, The Shadow of a Great Rock and Poetry and Repression.

“This book is superb, utterly convincing, and absolutely invigorating. Bloom’s final argument with mortality ultimately has a rejuvenating effect upon the reader, and is nothing short of a revelation.”—David Mikics, author of Slow Reading in a Hurried Age

"I felt reading this book the way Virginia Woolf in her diary describes her feeling about reading Shakespeare: 'I never yet knew how amazing his stretch and speed . . . is, until I felt it utterly outpace and outrace my own.'"—Laura Quinney, author of William Blake on Self and Soul

“In our time there has been no greater reader than Harold Bloom—no one who makes literature more important and more powerful. Bloom helps us grasp what Dickinson calls ‘vaster attitudes,’ allowing us to take a proud flight and to disdain, for a time, our own mortality.”—William Flesch, Brandeis University
 
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