Wednesday, June 12, 2002


I can't find this interview on the net anywhere, so I thought I'd post it.



------ Start of Forwarded Message ------
From: Damion Matthews
Sent: Wed, 12 Jun 2002 03:00:02 -0700
To: "Camillepaglia@Topica.Com"
Subject: Bloom and plagiarism
Cc:

FOR YALE CRITIC, PLAGIARISM IS LITERATURE
Boston Globe; Boston, Mass.; Apr 21, 2002;

Sub Title: [THIRD Edition]
Start Page: B.7
ISSN: 07431791

Abstract:
Not long after plagiarism charges began swirling around the work of historians Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Globe spoke to Harold Bloom, 72, the Yale literary critic and author. Bloom, in town to speak at the Boston Public Library's annual Literary Lights dinner, wrote the influential book "The Anxiety of Influence," which argues that an inspired form of plagiarism lies at the heart of much, if not all, great literature. Bloom, a Shakespeare enthusiast, launched into his first statement before being asked a question.

Full Text:
Copyright Boston Globe Newspaper Apr 21, 2002

Globe correspondent Jenny Attiyeh conducted this interview.

Not long after plagiarism charges began swirling around the work of historians Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Globe spoke to Harold Bloom, 72, the Yale literary critic and author. Bloom, in town to speak at the Boston Public Library's annual Literary Lights dinner, wrote the influential book "The Anxiety of Influence," which argues that an inspired form of plagiarism lies at the heart of much, if not all, great literature. Bloom, a Shakespeare enthusiast, launched into his first statement before being asked a question.

A. [Shakespeare] is a sublime plagiarist. He is the genius of plagiarism. He got away with every thing he could get away with. Wherever he found a likely passage in Plutarch, he would just versify it. Wherever he found a chunk of anything that would be useful to his purposes, in it went. It was like a sort of endless stew in which everything and anything went. . . . So really, whether it be one of my own students or whether it be a distinguished or popular historian or whoever, I cannot get excited about accusations of plagiarism. It is the most normal activity of literary production.

Q. Is that true of Stephen Ambrose and "The Wild Blue," as well, that he's not really doing anything wrong?

A. I cannot say that I'm familiar with either the name or the work!

Q. Why do you think plagiarism became a sin in the academy, considering what you have said? How did this develop as an accusation?

A. My dear, when you consider what has happened to the American academy, we don't have academies anymore! We don't have universities. We have what I would call media-versities. There are no standards whatsoever. All cognitive, all aesthetic standards have vanished in the study of the humanities. I would think that inspired plagiarism is greatly preferable to the endless nonsense that goes on in what used to be the academic world.

Q. How would you define the term plagiarism? Does it include intentional or unintentional borrowing of someone else's work?

A. I wouldn't define plagiarism, because, as I say, it's the same thing as literature! Let me quote my great hero, Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The originals are not original!" That is from his superb essay called "Quotation and Originality."

Q. Your defense of plagiarism makes me think perhaps that we have no original thoughts.

A. Well, there are figures who come along and so subsume our available stock of reality and of language, Shakespeare above all, so that after Shakespeare, no one can be original! And so Shakespeare himself was not original.

Q. Have you ever done it [plagiarized someone]?

A. I'm very idiosyncratic and eccentric! To the best of my knowledge, I have not done it. On the other hand, I am scandalously overproductive; I have turned out 26 books and perhaps a thousand separate pieces. I hope I have never done it, but I wouldn't be prepared to stand before a firing squad and insist I have never done it!

Q. Has anyone ever plagiarized you?

A. I don't follow such things, so I would not know. But . . . I am considered to be so "way out" that it's not likely that anyone would try.


[Illustration]
Caption: HAROLD BLOOM Says standards are lacking


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