Possessed by Memory
The Inward Light of Criticism
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
Apr 16, 2019
6.53 x 9.54 x 1.6 in | 1.96 lb
Alfred A. Knopf
- Author Bio
In arguably his most personal and lasting book, America’s most daringly original and controversial critic gives us brief, luminous readings of more than eighty texts by canonical authors—texts he has had by heart since childhood.
Gone are the polemics. Here, instead, in a memoir of sorts—an inward journey from childhood to ninety—Bloom argues elegiacally with nobody but Bloom, interested only in the influence of the mind upon itself when it absorbs the highest and most enduring imaginative literature. He offers more than eighty meditations on poems and prose that have haunted him since childhood and which he has possessed by memory: from the Psalms and Ecclesiastes to Shakespeare and Dr. Johnson; Spenser and Milton to Wordsworth and Keats; Whitman and Browning to Joyce and Proust; Tolstoy and Yeats to Delmore Schwartz and Amy Clampitt; Blake to Wallace Stevens—and so much more. And though he has written before about some of these authors, these exegeses, written in the winter of his life, are movingly informed by “the freshness of last things.”
As Bloom writes movingly: “One of my concerns throughout Possessed by Memory is with the beloved dead. Most of my good friends in my generation have departed. Their voices are still in my ears. I find that they are woven into what I read. I listen not only for their voices but also for the voice I heard before the world was made. My other concern is religious, in the widest sense. For me poetry and spirituality fuse as a single entity. All my long life I have sought to isolate poetic knowledge. This also involves a knowledge of God and gods. I see imaginative literature as a kind of theurgy in which the divine is summoned, maintained, and augmented.”
THE AUTHOR: Bloom is “the indispensable critic” (The New York Review of Books) not only to a sizeable literary niche but also to the generality as well, having written such best sellers as The Book of J, The Western Canon, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, and How to Read and Why.
A MOMENTOUS EVENT: Possessed by Memory—this monumental achievement—is by Bloom’s reckoning, as he nears ninety, his final undertaking on so grand a scope.
Marketing: National Print Advertising in The New York Review of Books
Online Advertising Campaign, including The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, Harper’s, LitHub
Finished Book Mailing with bookmark to writing programs
Publicity: National Media Attention including NPR and Print Features
Online Interviews, Reviews and Literary Blog Coverage
"Describe is what he does, perhaps more brilliantly than anyone else alive."
"The great critic revisits the literature that has meant most to him. "
--The New York Times
"Our era’s Samuel Johnson...Possessed by Memory really is a kind of valediction... Bloom has loved literature deeply—and that love is, even in the face of death, a life-giving force."
"These essays reveal a deeply personal attachment and fresh perspective. An eloquent and erudite rereading of the author's beloved works."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A rich lifetime of readership and scholarship can be found within the covers of this equally rich book."