Fighting the Harry Potter phenomenon may seem like fighting an imminent volcanic eruption: impossible. But famed Yale humanities professor Harold Bloom continues to struggle against the young wizard.
After a public attack on the first in the popular series of books by J.K. Rowling, Bloom now has published a children’s book of his own, “Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages.”
Bloom wrote a scathing critique of the book in the Wall Street Journal last year.
“The editor called me and told me that they had received over 600 negative letters and one positive letter,” Bloom said. “I told him that I couldn’t care less, and he said that he just wanted to let me know that they intended to print about eight of the letters. After that, I remember receiving endless e-mails from young ladies identified as of the ages 11 to 13 who denounced me in ferocious terms.”
Bloom has edited an anthology of stories and poems, arranged in sections corresponding to the four seasons.
“It’s for all children, even of my age,” said Bloom, 71. “It’s compiled of mostly older stuff from the 19th and early 20th centuries.”
The anthology contains works from authors including Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and Christina Rossetti.
The book comes after Bloom complained that Harry Potter was keeping children from classic literature.
“Why read [‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’]?” Bloom asked in the Wall Street Journal. “Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.”
Katherine Ling ’03, a student in both of Bloom’s seminars this term, said she thought Bloom’s new book was mostly for adults who still think they’re children.
“I am looking forward to reading professor Bloom’s new book,” Ling said. “I am interested in what he has to say.”
A Sterling professor of humanities, Bloom has taught at Yale since 1955. He is a prolific writer, and his books include “How to Read and Why,” “A Map of Misreading,” and “Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human.”
“I love him. He is fantastic,” said Lindsey Powell ’04, a student in Bloom’s “Genius and Genius” class. “I would take any class that he taught. I’ve heard people saying that he is arrogant, but he is actually very endearing, and he’s not condescending in any way. He’s very human while still being one of the smartest and most brilliant people I’ve ever met.”
Bloom said he believes the craze for Rowling’s books eventually will fade.
“When I was signing my books, this little boy asked me, ‘Professor Bloom, why don’t you like Harry Potter?'” Bloom said. “And I didn’t really want to explain, but I know that in 10 years’ time, ‘Harry Potter’ is not what he will be reading.”