The Shadow of a Great Rock, By Harold Bloom


Still vastly ambitious at 82, the dean of US lit crit tackles "the sublime summit of literature in English".

Created by a largely undistinguished committee, the King James Bible is "an inexplicable wonder", despite a vocabulary of 8,000 words, compared to 21,000 in Shakespeare.

It benefits from a protagonist who, at least in the Old Testament, is "violent, excessive, ill-tempered, unfathomable".

If the OT God is "the great narcissist", Bloom sees Hamlet in King David. Presaging Falstaff, the "vanity of vanities" chapter of Ecclesiastes prompts Bloom's reflection on his decay.