The Bright Book of Life: Novels to Read and Reread

The Bright Book of Life: Novels to Read and Reread

by Harold Bloom


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In his first book devoted exclusively to narrative fiction, America's most original and controversial literary critic and legendary Yale professor writes trenchantly about fifty-two masterworks spanning the Western tradition.

Perhaps no other literary critic but Harold Bloom could—or would—undertake a project of this immensity. And certainly no other critic could bring to it the extraordinary knowledge, understanding, and insight that are the hallmark of Bloom's every book. Ranging across centuries and continents, this final book of his career, gives us the inimitable critic on Don Quixote and Book of Numbers; Wuthering Heights and Absalom, Absalom; Les Miserables and Blood Meridian; Vanity Fair and Invisible Man; The Captain's Daughter and The Reef. He writes about works by Austen, Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoy, James, Conrad, Lawrence, Wolff, Le Guin, Sebald, and many more. Whether you have already read these books, or intend to, or simply care about the importance and power of fiction, Harold Bloom serves as an unparalleled guide through the pages of these 52 masterpieces of the genre.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525657262
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/24/2020
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 80,694
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

HAROLD BLOOM lived in New Haven and was a Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. Before that, he was Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. His more than forty books include Possessed by Memory, The Anxiety of Influence, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, The Western Canon, The American Religion, and The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime. He was a MacArthur Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism, the Catalonia International Prize, and Mexico's Alfonso Reyes International Prize. He lived in New Haven until his death on October 14, 2019, at the age of eighty-nine.


New York, New York and New Haven, Connecticut

Date of Birth:

July 11, 1930

Date of Death:

October 14, 2019

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., Cornell University, 1951; Ph.D., Yale University, 1955

Table of Contents

Preface The Lost Traveller's Dream xi

1 Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes 3

2 Clarissa Samuel Richardson 22

3 Tom Jones Henry Fielding 33

4 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen 39

5 Emma Jane Austen 46

6 Persuasion Jane Austen 52

7 I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed) Alessandro Manzoni 61

8 The Red and the Black Stendhal 66

9 The Charterhouse of Parma Stendhal 71

10 The Vautrin Saga: Old Goriot, Lost Illusions, The Splendor and Misery of the Courtesans Honore De Balzac 76

11 The Captains Daughter Alexander Pushkin 82

12 Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte 93

13 Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray 101

14 Moby-Dick Herman Melville 112

15 Bleak House Charles Dickens 152

16 Our Mutual Friend Charles Dickens 156

17 Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert 161

18 Les Miserables Victor Hugo 166

19 A Sportsman's Notebook Ivan Turgenev 172

20 First Love Ivan Turgenev 181

21 The Cossacks Leo Tolstoy 190

22 War and Peace Leo Tolstoy 197

23 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy 215

24 Hadji Murat Leo Tolstoy 229

25 The Return of the Native Thomas Hardy 238

26 The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky 244

27 The Princess Casamassima Henry James 254

28 The Ambassadors Henry James 258

29 Nostromo Joseph Conrad 261

30 The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad 268

31 Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad 273

32 The Reef Edith Wharton 277

33 The Rainbow D.H. Lawrence 286

34 Women in Love D.H. Lawrence 291

35 Ulysses James Joyce 300

36 The Magic Mountain Thomas Mann 354

37 To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf 377

38 In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust 387

39 The Master and Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov 391

40 Absalom, Absalom! William Faulkner 411

41 The Death of the Heart Elizabeth Bowen 427

42 Invisible Man Ralph Ellison 434

43 The Left Hand of Darkness Ursula K. Le Guin 447

44 The Dispossessed Ursula K. Le Guin 460

45 The Loser Thomas Bernhard 466

46 Blood Meridian Cormac McCarthy 472

47 The Rings of Saturn W. G. Sebald 485

48 Book of Numbers Joshua Cohen 504

Afterword The Changeling 511

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