Harold Bloom finally betrays how little he really understood literature

Philip Hensher in The Spectator:

Tennyson’s poem ‘Mariana’ has gone everywhere in the world since 1830. A professional scholar in Uruguay, Papua New Guinea or New Haven, Connecticut, reading the lines ‘Weeded and worn the ancient thatch/Upon the lonely moated grange’ might want to ask a few questions. Do English houses ever have moats? (Yes — Ightham Mote and Madresfield Court are famous examples.) Can we find houses with a humble thatch and also a moat? (A harder question – Tennyson’s poem set a vogue in landscape design as well as poetry.) Or, taking a different tack, where does the use of the word ‘moat’ as a verb come from? (Easy — ‘moated grange’ is from the poem’s subject, Measure for Measure.) What sort of word was it by 1830? (Harder — it comes up in translations with a taste for the archaic, and technical descriptions of architecture. Is it picturesque in a way that Shakespeare’s use isn’t?) These are interesting questions that might lead to some kind of enlightenment.

This is what Bloom has to say about it:

An English country house with moat seems rather singular. Doubtless they exist, though I have never seen one. Mariana’s grange and moat are Shakespeare’s in Measure for Measure, but only the line used as epigraph seems relevant.

Lazy, solipsistic, vague and plain wrong, this sums up the problem with Bloom’s criticism. There may be those who want to read about what Bloom didn’t know and couldn’t be bothered to find out, but I don’t believe their main interest is in literature.

More here.

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