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The Western Canon Audiobook

The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages

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Publisher's Summary

Harold Bloom explores our Western literary tradition by concentrating on the works of twenty-six authors central to the Canon. He argues against ideology in literary criticism; he laments the loss of intellectual and aesthetic standards; he deplores multiculturalism, Marxism, feminism, neoconservatism, Afrocentrism, and the New Historicism.
Insisting instead upon "the autonomy of aesthetic," Bloom places Shakespeare at the center of the Western Canon. Shakespeare has become the touchstone for all writers who come before and after him, whether playwrights, poets, or storytellers. In the creation of character, Bloom maintains, Shakespeare has no true precursor and has left no one after him untouched. Milton, Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Ibsen, Joyce, and Beckett were all indebted to him; Tolstoy and Freud rebelled against him; and while Dante, Wordsworth, Austen, Dickens, Whitman, Dickinson, Proust, and the modern Hispanic and Portuguese writers Borges, Neruda, and Pessoa are exquisite examples of how canonical writing is born of an originality fused with tradition.

Listen to a conversation with Harold Bloom.

©1994 by Harold Bloom; (P)1997 by Blackstone Audiobooks

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (148 )
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4.2 (62 )
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Story
3.9 (61 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Colin hounslow, N/A, United Kingdom 03-24-03
    Colin hounslow, N/A, United Kingdom 03-24-03
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    "zzzz"

    a book that states its case clearly and sets out to map the milestones of an entire culture. i have to admit, i found it heavy going at 22 hours but if you're less shallow than me and if you want to know why certain authors have been held as worthy of praise, check this one out.

    24 of 46 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Silver700 06-15-17
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    "Great Book"
    If you could sum up The Western Canon in three words, what would they be?

    A great book.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    You can't listen to this in one sitting.


    Any additional comments?

    This is an audiobook which requires attention. You need to focus because Bloom, especially in the first part of the book, jumps topics and makes references that require the listener's attention. I listen for about 30 minutes and then do something else or return the following day. He does expect a lot from the reader, but if you haven't read King Lear or Dante or The Wasteland, I wouldn't let that stop you from getting all you can from this book. I haven't read Lear but haven't found that to be an insurmountable obstacle. Again, this is a great book and I'm getting a lot out of it, but I recognize that this is going to be a long term listen...30 minutes to an hour a day and I have to pay attention, otherwise I get lost or lose track of his arguments. I'm considering buying the book so that I have a more permanent form of this and can make notes and highlight passages I find important. I think this is important, especially considering the constant attacks on the Western tradition...you need to have counter arguments and have considered why these books are important...Bloom helps you to make a case.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James A McBride 12-23-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Dense and Difficult but Worthwhile"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Dense and difficult for me to make meaningful. Rather than blame Harold Bloom's book for my difficulty, I think perhaps it's the same difficulty a student might experience when first learning how to interpret x-ray images and other medical imaging. It probably takes the same type of applied determination. Nevertheless, as an audible book, it's worthwhile and promises more where a person is willing to study and unpick the densely written prose. In an odd way, I feel that the book passes judgment on me in a way that I can't hope to pass judgment on it: I trust it's authoratative in the same way that I'm just beginning to learn about literature. And by the way, there's another title on Audible about the western canon that is much easier for a fresh face to start with: The Western Literary Canon in Context by Professor John M. Bowers. This series of lectures is very straight forward and the topic's parts have been expertly articulated. For my money, at my level of understanding anyway, the latter title is a better investment of time and money.<br/><br/>


    What other book might you compare The Western Canon to and why?

    The Western Literary Canon in Context by Professor John M. Bowers - covers similar ground but is plain and straight forward. This title from The Great Courses is a series of lectures that seem to articulate a difficult topic with ease.


    What about James Armstrong’s performance did you like?

    Great delivery even where the recording itself is a little 'sub-prime'


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No, it's heavy going all the way through


    Any additional comments?

    I'm motivated to study more and perhaps read more by Harold Bloom

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard 11-26-16
    Richard 11-26-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Audible Performance only"

    This review reflects only the audible performance, and not the book per se (I listened to, and read, the book simultaneously).

    First, there are numerous instances of pronunciation that amount to fingernails on a chalkboard (FooKALT, DareEEDuh, YEETS) to name a few. Second, there are several instances of splicing where what appears to be recordings from different sessions are merged together with great differences in sound quality and volume. Third, there is virtually no pause between chapters; there is greater pause between some sentences than the chapters themselves. These issues are responsible for my rating of three stars from a performance perspective. The text itself is a typically brilliant example of Bloom's genius (even if a bit loquacious).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Aptos, CA, United States 05-12-07
    Mark Aptos, CA, United States 05-12-07 Member Since 2015
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    "For every student and teacher of literature"

    This book helps reinforce why the classics are classic and why this generation needs to pass this wisdom to the next.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AH-SAN WONG Los Angeles, CA USA 04-20-12
    AH-SAN WONG Los Angeles, CA USA 04-20-12

    book reader

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    "The pronunciation of "Borges" is wrong!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Western Canon the most enjoyable?

    The book is too long for me. Having it on audio makes it feel like attending a series of lectures, and it's much easier.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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