Harold Bloom: The literary critic who fell in love with Cleopatra

America’s venerable critic has just celebrated his 89th birthday and he’s still teaching, albeit by Skype. Andy Martin talks to him about his life and writing and discovers Bloom’s body might be failing but his mind is sharper than ever – and still treasuring the moment he fell in love with actress Janet Suzman

Tuesday 06 August 2019 14:23
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Bloom sees himself as more of a Falstaff, a hedonistic lover of life and adventurer
Bloom sees himself as more of a Falstaff, a hedonistic lover of life and adventurer

For a moment or two, I got to be Harold Bloom. “Andy, you understand about computers, don’t you?” says he. “Sit down in front of that computer and send an email for me.” Which is how I came to sign myself “Harold”. It was a message to a publisher asking him to send a copy of Bloom’s latest book, Possessed by Memory, a memoir mediated through literature, “to the magnificent British actress, Dame Janet Suzman”.

I’m visiting Harold Bloom, America’s venerable and semi-omniscient literary critic, at his beautiful old wooden house on a leafy street in New Haven, where – having just celebrated his 89th birthday – he is still teaching. Via Skype. He’s a bit too frail to be allowed on the Yale campus (they say the insurance won’t cover him).

“What was your high point then, looking back over your life?”

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