March 14, 2003 Harold Bloom, America's Leading Literary Critic, Discusses "Shakespeare and Genius" at the Library of Congress

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Harold Bloom, widely recognized as America's leading literary critic, will discuss "Shakespeare and Genius" at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 25, in the Montpelier Room, sixth floor of the James Madison Building, Independence Avenue and First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, which is sponsored by the John W. Kluge Center and the Office of Scholarly Programs, is free and open to the public.

Bloom will base his presentation on three of his recently published books: "Hamlet: Poem Unlimited" (Riverhead Books, 2003), "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human" (Riverhead Books, 1998), and "Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds" (Warner Books, 2002).

In "Hamlet: Poem Unlimited," Bloom focuses on the artistic "infinite reverberations" of Shakespeare's genius as evidenced in the bard's most enigmatic and memorable work. Bloom's wit and formidable erudition are evident as he takes the reader through the play's major soliloquies, scenes and characters, exploring Hamlet's 400- year-old "charisma" in the process.

Bloom shows that "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare" is "a secular scripture from which we derive much of our language, our psychology and our mythology" in "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human." "Shakespeare is the true multicultural author," Bloom said once in an interview. "He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere."

In "Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds," Bloom celebrates some of the most creative literary minds in history, from Plato and Kierkegaard to Shakespeare and Dante. He describes genius as "the trait of standing both of and above its age, the ancient principle that recognizes and hallows the God within us, and the gift of breathing life into what is best in every living person."

Bloom is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and Berg Professor of English at New York University. The winner of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1985 and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Criticism in 1999, he is the author of more than 20 books. They include "The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry" (Cornell, 1971), "The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry" (Oxford, 1975), "A Map of Misreading" (Oxford, 1980), "Kabbalah and Criticism" (Continuum, 1983), "Agon: Theory of Revisionism" (Oxford, 1983), "Ruin the Sacred Truths: Poetry and Belief from the Bible to the Present" (Harvard, 1989), "Book of J" (Random House, 1991), "The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation" (Touchstone, 1993), "The Western Canon: The Books & School of the Ages" (Harcourt, 1994), and "Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, & Resurrection" (Putnam, 1996). He has edited nearly 500 additional works, most of them in the Chelsea House series of literary criticism.

Established in 2000 through a $60 million endowment from John W. Kluge, the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress hosts qualified scholars conducting research in its comprehensive collections for a period of up to one year. The center furnishes work and discussion space for the Kluge Chair holders, other established chairs, distinguished visiting scholars, Kluge postdoctoral fellows, and for postdoctoral fellows supported by other private foundation gifts. The center also provides easy access to the Library's services and specialized staff. For more information about the John W. Kluge Center, contact the Office of Scholarly Programs, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. 20540-4860; phone (202) 707-3302; fax (202) 707-3595; Web site:


PR 03-045
ISSN 0731-3527