Harold Bloom and William Shakespeare

The ‘Saints of Repetition’ and the Towers of Babel

in Critical Survey
Taoufiq SakhkhaneIbn Tofail University, Morocco taoufiq.sakhkhane@uit.ac.ma

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Harold Bloom's The Western Canon (1994) and Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1999) represent a scholar's take on a major figure in Western literature, namely, William Shakespeare. All figures, according to Bloom, either converge upon or take their point of departure from Shakespeare in a way that rehabilitates the myth of the Original Englishman and accordingly recreates a Western canon, some universal anthology, whose centre is Shakespeare, while all later generations of writers are, in Elias Canetti's words, ‘saints of repetition’, who can only translate what they happen to ‘overhear’ from the master and keep vibrant a tradition that can ‘make us at home out of doors, foreign abroad’. Though Bloom hardly uses the term ‘translation’ while tracking the genealogy of such ‘influence’ and the ‘anxieties’ therein implicated, one can readily detect a Gordian knot out of which such theorisations and explorations emanate: translation is here foregrounded as a smokescreen designed to close rather than disclose.

Contributor Notes

Taoufiq Sakhkhane is Professor Associate at the College of Languages, Letters and Arts at Ibn Tofail University, Kenitra, Morocco. He is the author of Spivak and Postcolonialism: Exploring Allegations of Textuality (Palgrave, 2012.) As a translator of texts from French and English into Arabic, he has translated Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark, Paul Bowles’ Without Stopping, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, Patrick Modiano's L'horizon, L'herbe de nuits, Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier, and Victor Bulmer-Thomas's An Empire in Retreat: The Past, the Present and the Future of the United States. E-mail: taoufiq.sakhkhane@uit.ac.ma

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