Saturday, June 16, 2007


Here is what I have written in the margin of Harold Bloom's "Shakespeare's Universalism":

Does this locate "universalism" in the male consciousness? Does this make it universal masculinity, 50% of universalism? Should women read Shakespeare from this "universalism," i.e., from the male perspective? Does this universalism require a woman to read Shakespeare not as herself, but as a man? A reading not her own, but a "universal" male's?

I can accept Harold Bloom's universalism for Shakespeare--if we add in the Reader-response approach he occasionally hints at. To ask a reader--any reader--to read Shakespeare from a universal perspective is essentially to ask a reader to read Shakespeare as Harold Bloom. But to allow the reader to read Shakespeare authentically as himself, or as herself, allows Shakespeare's truth to truly be read.

When Bloom casts his animosity at contemporary academic literary theory, a condescending arrogance shows through. He requires Shakespeare to be read as he reads Shakespeare, and sees other readings as the downfall of academia.

But I exist reading Shakespeare as Bloom would want, looking for the humanity, the universal themes, the truths of the cosmos, the depth of character.

And I also exist reading Shakespeare within the context of any theory you'd like: Marxism, Feminism, Queer Theory, or anything else.


I do not need to read Shakespeare solely as Bloom wishes me to. And I do not need to read Shakespeare solely as an ideological theorist would have me read Shakespeare. I read Shakespeare with both consciousnesses informing my reading. I read for the spiritual fulfillment, and yet I exist within the realm of ideological theory.

I can do both. To ignore either would give me, I feel, a weaker reading. A weaker experience. Bloom's aestheticism does not exist for me as a mutual exclusive mode of reading experience from contemporary literary theory.

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