Summer 1984 • Vol. VI No. 3 Nonfiction |

Bloom, Freud, and “America”

Harold Bloom's theory of poetic influence is the most controversial and influential of our time. It is an overtly psychological theory: in Agon, published in 1982, Bloom asserts that we live in the Age of Freud. Bloom argues that the relations between poets are the true subject of literary history, and that these relations are characterized by all the envy, guilt, ambivalence and love that create the Oedipal family. Strong poets suffer in particular an acute anxiety of belatedness. Their writing consists of a series of defenses against the sense that they have been born too late to do any truly original work. In twelve books published over nearly three decades, Bloom has almost single-handedly transposed Freud's theories of intrapsychic and generational conflict into the realm of poetic careers. By doing so he has also assured that any critic of poetry in English lives now in the Age of Bloom. Bloom is a student of rhetorical figures — or tropes — and of the way that poets or

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