Harold Bloom, 1930-2019
We are very sorry to learn of the death of Professor Harold Bloom, who was an honorary patron of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation.
Harold Bloom was one of the most distinguished literary critics of the last century, with his works The Anxiety of Influence (1973) and The Western Canon (1994) informing several generations of scholarship. His many books include an edited collection of essays, Anthony Burgess: Modern Critical Views (New York: Chelsea House, 1987), and he described Burgess’s Inside Mister Enderby as ‘the most undervalued English novel of our era.’ He took a particular interest in Burgess’s writing about Shakespeare, especially his fictionalised account of Shakespeare’s life, Nothing Like The Sun — ‘a splendid novel … the only successful novel ever written about Shakespeare’.
Harold Bloom and Anthony Burgess always enjoyed each other’s company. After Burgess’s death in 1993, Bloom corresponded with Liana Burgess, and he was very supportive of her idea to create an educational charity in memory of her late husband. Bloom was pleased to accept Liana’s invitation to become an honorary patron of the Foundation, and he was an energetic supporter of Burgess’s writing through his critical books, the most recent of which appeared only last week.
In 1999 Bloom gave an interview to the Independent in which he described an encounter with Burgess in the 1970s:
‘There is a mystical pact between me and Tony. I met him in New York, and he introduced me to his favourite drink, Fundador, Barcelona cognac. One morning I had bought a bottle, and was walking home, and suddenly like an apparition in front of me, blinking in the sunlight, is Mr Anthony Burgess, with his shirt open to his navel, and wearing carpet-slippers and no socks and clearly not having slept the night before. He said, ‘Bloom, Bloom, is that you? What have you got in that paper bag?’ I said, ‘Improbable as it may seem, it is a bottle of Fundador.’ He said, ‘My God, there is a God, this proves it, hand it over immediately.’ I watched with wonder as he took one of the longest drinks I had ever seen, and shuddered after each draw. He handed it back, and I said, ‘No, you owe me a bottle.’ He said, ‘It is a sacred obligation, and if it should happen that we do not meet in this life again, when you reach the other shore I will be waiting for you, be it purgatory or heaven, and there I shall stand on the other shore with a bottle of Fundador.’ Well, I have not yet reached the other shore, but I frequently think he will be waiting for me with the Fundador.’
We wish Harold Bloom well on his journey to the other shore, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.