jeudi 24 février 2011

The Influence of Bloom

“If, in fact, you have an impulse to become and maintain yourself as a deep reader, then the internet is very good for you. It gives you an endless resource. But if, in fact, you don’t have standards and you don’t know how to read, then the internet is a disaster for you because it’s a great gray ocean of text in which you simply drown.”

“Can you explain to me your concept of the solitary reader? That’s who you say you address your books to.

It’s not a concept. It’s just a fact. There are solitary readers all over the world. I don’t have any special insight into this. I do not know why it is that certain young people, from the beginning, are loners—perfectly sane—who want to go and be alone with a very good book. Again, it’s the saving remnant. It’s a sort of strange grace and of course I’m profoundly thankful for it.”

(From an interview with Harold Bloom: HAROLD BLOOM - PART 1 - Vice Magazine)

Harold Bloom was definitely an influential author in my life. It was in his book How to Read and Why (that I bought on a rare trip to Chapters in Ottawa with my friend Tara) that I first learned that there was more to reading than Mary Higgins Clark. In his book, I read about the “great books”, and what makes them better than others... of course, this is only according to him, and I think there is something to be gleaned from pretty much all books. But his arguments are convincing.

It was because of his book that I bought so many used books during my first few years in Ottawa: after so many years of now knowing what to read next (when I lived with my parents), I now had a list of enough books to last me a lifetime.

One of my favourite quotes from How to Read and Why is (and I’m quoting from memory so it may not be exact) "The solitary reader should read for the purest of all reasons: to discover and augment the self."

So as generous and selfless as my husband thinks I am, I may in fact really be quite selfish in my reading!

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