The Canon of Western Literature



From the discussion so far, the influence of strong predecessors and previous canonical thinkers suggests again that originality and a detached newness are not so straightforwardly a means of liberation. The defense of the idea that originality is only possible from working within a tradition still rests on a narrow theory of influence as tantamount to power. The fraught nature of trying to achieve a degree of originality is proof of the power wielded by the Greats over later writers (hence influence and potentially oppressive power are one and the same). Within twentieth century literary criticism, the decline of the popularity of influence studies is due to this limited—but dominant—theory of influence. Accounting for the confluence of the late twentieth century attacks on canonical thought and the decline of traditional influence studies, all too briefly, involves assessing both political and methodological critiques of the canon of Western literature, by those whom Harold Bloom would call ‘resenters’.


Literary studies Western literature Intertextuality 

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BradfordBradfordUK

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