Posted by Joseph Adamson on September 9th, 2009
One might state the case even more baldly: anyone who has read Bloom’s later work with any attention or heard him speak in public can hardly avoid the impression that he is a person of overweening vanity and narcissistic self-regard. Frye’s fingerprints are all over Bloom’s early work, when the latter still had his critical sanity. In his early career, he looked to Frye as a mentor and sought his friendship. I remember reading letters Bloom wrote to Frye at the end of the sixties (this was some years ago, but I think it was around 1969, the year of the letter Bob cites). Bloom seems to have suffered a serious depression at the time and wrote Frye about it, taking him into his confidence, and exposing his emotional vulnerability to his mentor. Like many envy-ridden people, he later bit the hand that fed him, maligning what he first identified with and later feared he could not compete with. In the general neglect of Frye’s work over the last decades, Bloom stands as a special case: as Bob suggests, the distancing seems personal and speaks more to Bloom’s psychological issues than to any genuine critical or theoretical disagreement.