Harold Bloom’s latest book—his forty-first, if you’re keeping track—is The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime. Those well acquainted with the monumental Bloomian corpus (God bless them) will recognize the topic at once: Gnosticism, upon which Professor Bloom has been fixated for going on four decades. Yet those not so acquainted need not feel disadvantaged. Bloom’s latest offering will leave everyone thoroughly flummoxed.

The Daemon Knows is about “the dozen creators of the American sublime”: Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, and Hart Crane. Together these writers “represent our incessant effort to transcend the human without forsaking humanism.” Bloom pairs the twelve...


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