This is nearly 300 pages of descriptions of people being cruel to animals (unsettling), and better techniques for raising horses (boring). I appreciate what this book is, and what it was trying to do, but the unsettling/boring roller-coaster ride was too much for me, and I didn't make it through.
For nearly forty years, the Olympics had medals in things like music, painting, and several kinds of poetry.
The author looks for every shred of evidence he can find about contact with other cultures in the Greek dark ages. While he defends his theories pretty well, they still seem pretty speculative. Sometimes his conclusions are interesting and his enthusiasm is infectious. More often, it's very dry. Once every few dozen pages he sneaks in a truly awful/excellent joke. I don't regret reading it, but I couldn't recommend it.
For the actual story of the Western Canon, try Great Books Of The Western World, a list of books (almost all public domain) that give a pretty good sampling of the development of Western thinking (including non-fiction like Euclid, for example, not just the fiction American English professors like). Better to go straight to the source.
Bloom presents his central thesis in a very convoluted, muddled, disorganized way, with a lot of statements meant to get quick emotional reactions, because the only way anyone could take his ideas seriously is with a lot of distractions.
Bloom has an obnoxious habit of assuming western civilization is only a product of the United States of America, and that any work in the western cannon is fundamentally a reflection of the political and social issues that were in vogue in the late twentieth century. It's such an anachronistic history that long sections about authors that died before the United States even existed come across like quaint meditations on Clinton's America vs. Reagan's America. What does Dante think about Iran-Contra? Does Shakespeare approve of the Stealth Bomber budget overruns? Aristotle stares at a bust of Homer and contemplates Magic Johnson's AIDS.
He accuses visible minorities and women of being only capable of resentment, but he was quite possibly the most resentful person who has ever lived, and had a weird and bitter obsession with successful black people. And, frankly, his female students were quite right to be resentful, as he bragged to his friends about sexually assaulting them.
Late in the book he has a chapter called "Borges, Neruda, and Pessoa: Hispanic-Portuguese Whitmen". There are literally no words to describe how self-deludedly patriotic and naively parochial he is.
He's like an over-the-top parody of a cartoon of an Ivy League professor. It wouldn't surprise me if it were revealed that Harold Bloom never existed, and his entire life was just some elaborate joke.
BBC archival footage of J.R.R. Tolkien. Very groovy. He talks about trees.
An extremely nice collection excellent book covers.
This has 559 characters. In my edition, that averages out to about one new character every two pages. I feel like this has a lot of characters for the same reason guys who don't need to haul heavy loads buy really big pickup trucks.
This is one of the greatest things I've ever read in my life.
Not as well known as Sunzi's Art of War, but still quite good (and short): the 36 Stratagems (a.k.a. 36 Ways of Getting out of Trouble)