Harold Bloom, the eminent critic and Yale professor whose seminal “The Anxiety of Influence” and melancholy regard for literature’s old masters made him a popular author and standard-bearer of Western civilization amid modern trends, died Monday at age 89. Bloom’s wife, Jeanne, said that he had been in failing health, although he continued to write books and was teaching as recently as last week.
Bloom wrote more than 20 books and prided himself on making scholarly topics accessible to the general reader. But, he saw his career as a very simple and honorable one.
Professor Bloom was a frequent guest on this program. He would write me short complimentary notes asking if we could talk about his latest project or just about life in general. In truth, in a 45-minute conversation, I may only get 2-3 questions in. But, listening to him hold forth was always a pleasure.
Although he frequently bemoaned the decline of literary standards, he was as well placed as a contemporary critic could hope to be. He appeared on best-seller lists with such works as “The Western Canon” and “The Book of J,” and was a National Book Award finalist and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Harold Bloom spoke with us in 2015.