Reading Novels

Harold Bloom, who taught at Yale for many years and died this year at the age of 90, was a literary genius. He may have read more novels, plays, and poems than anyone who ever lived. He could recite from memory more literary works than most of us have read. What I presume was his final book, just published last month, is titled The Bright Book of Life: Novels to Read and Reread. In it, he lists and discusses 48 great novels. I’ve read 12 of them. I was chagrined to note that I had started to read and gave up on eight on his list of perhaps greatest novels of all time and that I can’t remember a blooming thing about several that I read all the way through. I plan to read a couple on Bloom’s list that I never began and a couple that I started but didn’t finish, including Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, which I’ve started and not finished more than any other. This time I’m not going to expect that the characters in it will actually get to the lighthouse.