Perhaps the Ivory Tower would not prove so damaging to American culture if all college students were required to take classes with professors such as Yale literary scholar Harold Bloom. He’s the latest subject of TIME magazine’s “10 Questions” feature.
Your new book, The Daemon Knows, features 12 American writers touched by genius–only one of whom is a woman. Do you anticipate flak?
I don’t even bother anymore. I’m always being denounced. A few years ago, I named all these people: the pseudo feminists, the pseudo Marxists, the pseudo power-and gender-freaks, as I call them. I call them all, in capital letters, the School of Resentment. I always get nasty reviewers. I couldn’t care less.
Have your Yale students’ outlooks come to resemble your critics’ over time?
[Those opinions] were fashionable, and they’ve left the students. But there are all these pseudo journalists and pseudo academics who don’t know how to do anything else.
How have your students changed more generally?
We had the ghastly so-called Cultural Revolution, and the Black Panther weekend, and suddenly the students went crazy for a couple of years. But they got over that. The 1970s were a transitional time, but Yale students got to be better again in the 1980s, 1990s.
Do you look for seminar students who agree with you?
My one distinction that I would crave as a teacher is that no two of my students resemble one another, or resemble me in any way whatsoever. Ralph Waldo Emerson, my great hero, once said, “That which I can gain from another is never instruction but only provocation.”