At Berfrois, Ed Simon assesses the recent public responses to the death of Harold Bloom and ends up taking aim at everyone, sparing neither Bloom’s admirers nor his detractors:
[N]o doubt some will read what I’ve already said about Bloom in this article as being ill-considered and ungracious, while others will see it as sentimental and platitudinous. That’s not because I designed this essay to offend the widest possible distribution of readers; I’ve no desire to anger Bloom acolytes and detractors alike. I’ve written it this way because people are fucking complicated. Bloom deserves to be castigated for failings he didn’t rectify; for injustices left unredeemed. Additionally, no critic’s work is so sacrosanct that we’re not allowed to condemn their excesses, especially as regards a scholar as pugilistic as Bloom. Death confers no automatic right to respect. What reality compels us towards, however, is an awareness of people’s complexity, of their contradictions, of their humanness. We can wisely say that a full accounting of a person’s life must grapple with their darker legacies, but the corollary is obviously true as well (even if the morass that is social media sometimes obscures that fact among people whom in their everyday lives I pray are a bit more charitable). When Henry Kissinger dies, I’m all for saying “RIP to an asshole,” but Harold Bloom — despite his flaws — was no Henry Kissinger. If we lose site of that sort of charity, I worry that our political denigrators will be correct about the worst of our attitudes.
I’ve got no interest in the casual cruelty of our cruel age, because Bloom deserves a better consideration.