Wright on alt-right Austen & Bloom

Not that I read The Chronicle, but:

Other alt-right partisans pay backhanded compliments by emphasizing Austen’s singularity as a celebrated female novelist. In a post that debuted in 2012 on Alternative Right and has since been lauded as an alt-right “classic,” the “manosphere” blogger Matt Forney mentioned Austen as an outlier from the norm of female mediocrity: “Virtually all great leaders, thinkers and artists were men. Aristotle, Galileo, Michaelangelo [sic], Napoleon: all men. Not to say that all women are incapable of artistic, scientific or military talent; every so often, we get a Marie Curie, a Jane Austen or a Joan of Arc.” Here the alt-right finds common ground with the literary gatekeeper Harold Bloom; in his best seller The Western Canon(1994), Austen is one of four women on a list of 26 most influential authors. According to this formulation, Austen is not a trailblazer for the female authors who followed in her wake, but rather a rebuke to women who have not reached her level of achievement.
—Nicole M. Wright, “Alt-Right Jane Austen,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (12 March 2017)

The purchase on reality offered by extrapolating from taste—particularly shared ones—is dubious.* But to draw distinctions that leave Norman Thomas voters lumped together with the alt-right is to lose contact with a considerable portion of external reality. When it hinges on Jane Austen, it’s probably one of the more mannered forms of psychosis, and not necessarily a bad response to our long march through the Chaotic Age.

Bloom makes no such “rebuke” argument. If it’s statistics that damn him, he gives her better odds in the actual chapter on Persuasion:

Henry James insisted that the novelist must be a sensibility upon which absolutely nothing is lost; by that test (clearly a limited one) only Austen, George Eliot, and James himself, among all those writing in English, would join Stendhal, Flaubert, and Tolstoy in a rather restricted pantheon.
—Harold Bloom, The Western Canon (1994)

33.33% is less rebuke-y than 15.38%.

*The exception that proves the rule: people who enjoy Rilke are reliably boring. (And seven times out of ten, despicable in some minor way.)

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