Harold Bloom in his “anxiety of influence” phase is often thought to insist on an intertextual dynamic that is ahistorical. This view might seem to be confirmed by comparison with the text of Bloom's “strong precursor,” T. S. Eliot's “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” The reason for this widespread response to Bloom—and to Eliot—is that although Bloom is as authentic a historian of literature as Hans-Georg Gadamer, as the late Russian formalists (e.g., Jurij Tynjanov), or as Hans Robert Jauss, he shares with all these figures a sense of a fundamental and unchanging intertextual dynamic that overrides conditions imposed by broader historical or even literary change. The essay argues that Bloom's theory does in fact accommodate change just insofar as it belies his own claim that he is not interested in narrowly verbal allusion. It shows that even in Bloom's most broadly imaginative moments, relations with past texts are inspired by verbal signals.

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