In the Critics this Week

Harold Bloom on Samuel Johnson, unsustainable jargon and the best sequel since the second Godfather

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In the Critics section of this week's New Statesman, Harold Bloom reflects on his, "hero of criticism Samuel Johnson" using Johnson to reflect on his own role as a literary critic. "Johnson remains the major literary critic in all of western tradition," he claims. "[E]ven a glance at a comprehensive collection of his writings [reveals]'something of Johnson's restless, rather dangerous energies". Bloom concludes: "I regard Johnson as my critical forerunner," he writes, "my life's work ... until now seems to me more Johnsonian than Freudian or Nietzschean, a following of the great critic in his quest to understand literary imitation."

Film critic Ryan Gilbey remarks of the characters in Katell Quillevere's Love Like Poison that they are all "in emotional disarray". The director "has a delicate touch," keeping, "the scenes short and elliptical so that they feel more eavesdropped or stumbled upon than staged".

"Catch him on a good week and Harris's music is unbeatable," says Antonia Quirke in her commendation of Bob Harris's Radio 2 show, while Sarah Churchwell enjoys The Professor, Terry Castle's "masterclass in cutting people down to size".' Churchwell admires Castle's "uncensored quality, [her] willingness to let rip," in a work that is "'at once droll and deeply serious".

The Books Interview this week is with David Eagleman. The author of Sum talks about his new work Incognito and popular science writing. Amanda Craig reviews Edward St Aubyn's At Last, the fifth of the author's "autobiographical novels about Patrick Melrose". "For all its ferociously funny riffing on the rich and the legacy of child abuse," Craig writes, "At Last is less formally interesting than St Aubyn's previous novels". She concludes: "released from the engine of hatred and misery that powered his earlier work, he has lost the very qualities that made his prose so memorable".

Samira Schackle tackles Anatol Lieven's Pakistan: A Hard Country and writes that it "does much to counter lazy assumptions about the country that proliferate elsewhere". Will Self complains about unsustainable jargon, and Helen Lewis-Hasteley is full of praise for Portal 2, commenting that "it's the story that allows the original four-hour novella of a game to beome the equivalent of a Victorian realist novel".

Further reviews and comment: Rachel Cooke on TV's Wonderland, Little Eagles at the Hampstead Theatre reviewed by Andrew Billen, the memoir of poet Roger Garfitt examined by Duncan Fallowell, Andrew Martin on the dying trend of writers who drink and smoke and Norman Lebrecht's dissatisfaction with Jens Malte Fischer's mega-biography Gustav Mahler.

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