October 11th, 2007

breaking bad

Lessing, Bloom

I come to ridicule Harold Bloom. You will have heard that Doris Lessing got the Nobel Prize for Literature. First I want to say that it really pisses me off that every time a woman wins anything the jerks come out to say that she wouldn't have won it except for 'political correctness', that she isn't any good, and that the prize itself is worthless anyway. As Tallulah Bankhead said 'I have two words for you, and one of them is Off'

But on to Harold Bloom. Here's what he has said about Doris Lessing:

".. pure political correctness. Although Ms. Lessing at the beginning of her writing career had a few admirable qualities, I find her work for the past 15 years quite unreadable ... fourth-rate science fiction."

"Even if one passionately agreed with the crusade against male human beings urged by Doris Lessing and Alice Walker, their rhetoric of exclusion gives no pleasure."

Crusade against male human beings? Doris Lessing isn't even a feminist, and I find her biased towards men rather than women. I wouldn't read The Cleft for that reason. I liked her Canopus in Argos SF novels at the time (I was in my early twenties) though I think they are a bit too Abrahamic for my taste. You know, they aren't exactly Sufi, but they are very patriarchal. All credit to Lessing for not turning her nose up at SF, and as with all good SF stories, ideas from the Canopus series come back to me all through my life, even if I don't 'agree' with her overall views. BTW if you like this stuff I'd recommend starting with Briefing for a Descent into Hell which precedes that main sequence of the Canopus books.

I think people like Bloom can't read a woman writing about being a woman without thinking that is somehow attacking men. As if they are so used to being the centre of attention that if anyone talks about anything else it's all 'Hey, why are you attacking me?'