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Harold Bloom on 2666

July 27, 2009

One fantastic advantage of our contemporary age is the relative ease with which we can can contact those we admire.  A quick anecdote:

My father, a life-long fan of The Who, tried to call Pete Townshend on his birthday (which, incidentally, is May 15th) to wish him many happy returns.  After extensive searching, he was able to speak to an operator in London, but said operator would not divulge Mr. Townshend’s phone number and, sadly, my father’s hopes to wish his rock idol a happy birthday were dashed.

In the present day, however, we have much better lines of communication–even to those that, in the past, seemed unreachable.  As an undergraduate, I read a great article by Keen Butterworth on Deliverance but needed further explanation on some fine points.  Instead of lamenting my inability to get an answer, I quickly found his e-mail address, sent a message, and got a reply all within a few hours.

Even more recently, I read an interview of Harold Bloom in which he describes the Judge from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian as “evil incarnate” and found myself thinking, “Hmm. 2666 deals pretty directly with evil, but the evil therein goes completely unnamed and–for the most part–unexperienced. I wonder what Professor Bloom thinks of it.” Thanks to the magic of the internet and Yale University’s Web site, I was able to find his e-mail information with no difficulty, send him my inquiry and get this response:

Dear Mr. Thomas: I suspect Bolano is another period piece. His excess attracts but flows away. Harold Bloom

Sure, it’s brief, but Harold Bloom answered my inquiry.  While I certainly don’t take everything he says or writes as gospel, his distaste of Bolaño sours my enjoyment of the novel.  Even before the tepid response from Professor Bloom, I wouldn’t venture to say that 2666 will be an important novel a generation from now, but I’m certainly willing to bet that it will be academically important for at least the next decade or so.  It may flow away, but it’s viscous enough to stick around for awhile.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Daniel permalink
    August 11, 2009 11:08 pm

    It’s been 3 years (2006) since he’s published a book. If he doesn’t have the endurance or strength to write, maybe he doesn’t have the strength to make it through 2666 or The Savage Detectives. Mr. Bloom is very close to the end now. To him, everything can only seem to have been better in the past. That’s my opinion.

  2. Joseph G permalink
    October 15, 2009 8:43 pm

    I wouldn’t give up on 2666 just yet. I think the magic of Bolano’s life story will be enough to keep people interested for a while anyway.

  3. January 4, 2010 9:35 am

    You forgot to mention that Harold Bloom IS ACTUALLY MENTIONED IN THE BOOK.

  4. January 4, 2010 9:45 am

    Maybe I skipped over that in my haste to finish the book, but where is Bloom mentioned?

  5. Dotty permalink
    February 18, 2010 1:06 am

    His name was in one of Amalfitano’s figures.

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