chapter  4
12 Pages

Said . . . Bloom . . . Vico

WithGRAHAM ALLEN

That Edward Said was willing in the 1970s to be so positive towards the work of Harold Bloom might strike today’s readers as something of an oddity. Certainly, readers of Said’s posthumous Humanism and Democratic Criticism will be surprised that Said ever had anything particularly positive to say about Bloom. There, Said refers to what he calls Bloom’s ‘tiresome vatic trumpetings’ and goes on to make various other negative comments on Bloom’s style of public presentation.1 Things were not always so. In an interview published in Diacritics in 1976, Said is very clear on the importance that Bloom had on his early thinking and particularly on the germination of his seminal work, Beginnings.2 Referring to his fi rst encounter with Bloom’s criticism, ‘in its mature form,’ Said writes,

My whole interest in beginnings and origins suddenly acquired a new dimension for me, and many confi rmations . . . . Most of all, I was impressed with the way Bloom showed that creation was a form of dealing with the past, redoing it in an original or beginning way, so to speak, and since I was a devoted student of Vico the discovery of themes like knowing is making, and the heroism of early poets, in Bloom was quite an experience.3