Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brief response to Bloom on Lear

If Harold Bloom would like to argue that the ideology of feminist literary theory causes a misreading of King Lear, he might be able to wage a solid argument.

But if Bloom is suggesting that an individual woman reader's experience reading King Lear is invalid if she doesn't like Lear, he's saying something else altogether.

The former suggests an ideology can lead to misunderstanding of a writer who wasn't writing with such ideology--a fair point.

The latter suggests the only valid reading of King Lear is the universal reading, i.e, the male reading. The latter suggests a woman cannot read King Lear as a woman and read it accurately; the latter suggets that to understand King Lear, a woman may be required to read it like a man.

This is the worst excess of criticism: when a critic universalizes his own reading, taking his particular tastes and developing a larger theory for it. Such criticism requires other readers to read literature only as that particular critic reads literature--it forces one's personal mode of reading onto everybody else and says that one's personal mode of reading is "proper" and everybody else's is inaccurate.

We can all of us only read as ourselves. I cannot read as Harold Bloom; he cannot read as me. I also cannot read as a woman, and I would not require a woman to read as a man.

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