Corona Diary, Day 14

Sunday, 29 March

I have to prioritise exercise today so, after a trip to the recycling centre, I cross the railway line to northern Sweden and walk in a westerly direction. I’ve not been here before and wonder whether the path will take me to Uppsala’s small airfield. It’s mainly a military airbase but there was talk a few years ago of civilian flights and I believe a rather expensive connection to Cambridge in England actually operated for a short period.

As far as I know this project has been dropped which doesn’t surprise me, bearing in mind that we are so close to Stockholm’s main airport, Arlanda.

My path would probably have taken me in that direction but I get diverted on to another of Linnaeus’ “herbations”, this time the one going from central Uppsala up to Old Uppsala. It passes a hill where there is apparently a viewpoint as well as several rare flowers, which I must revisit with coffee and food a bit later in the season.

I spend the day reorganising my work room, numbering all of my storage boxes on the top shelf and making an index so that I know what’s where, which box has letters from friends and which old postcards of Dorset etc. The work takes time but it goes well until my printer breaks down when I’ve almost completed the process. This time there is an ominous rattle when I try to reconnect the cable and part of a USB outlet falls off inside the machine. My old printer has had it and will have to be replaced.

I spend the evening on my daily Bengali session and then get to grips with yet another review on Harold Bloom’s last book “The American Canon”, this time by Zachary Leader in the TLS. He deals  with Bloom’s theory of influence, which also underlies “The American Canon”. I find the area interesting – how a writer finds his or her own voice, inspired by but preferably not crushed by earlier authors. But Bloom was very interested in Freud and his earlier work, according to the reviewer, bears this imprint in his analysis of how later writers go beyond and “correct” their models, using a series of what Bloom calls reversionary ratios or poetic misprisions, clinamen, tessera, kenosis, askesis, apohprades, daemonization or swerving, completing, emptying, truncating, returning to/opening up, displacing. Bloom, having been a leading literary critic (if not the leading) for many years has a lot to say and I would like to read and know more about him. But the Freudian touch puts me off and perhaps Leander too as he considers it “merciful” that the esoteric terminology is missing in the current volume, with the exception of “daemon”, “an internal, yet also somehow alien imaginative capacity, which confers strength on writers, connecting them both to their truest or most individual selves, and to divinity”.

There are some notable omissions in Bloom’s canon – Wharton, Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Poe, among others), who are “deemed deficient in sublimity”.

I’d like to have a better grasp of American literature and literary criticism. I must read more about and by Bloom but it’s not at the top of my list just now.  

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