Review of A Map for Rereading

            In Annette Kolodny’s paper, A Map for Rereading: Or, Gender and the Interpretation of Literary Texts first paragraph, she is explaining the foundation for Harold Bloom’s argument in his paper, A Map of Misreading. In his text Bloom argues that all poems are relative to eachother, meaning the subject of each poem is other poems (Kolodny 1). In the paragraph to follow Kolodny explains what bloom describes as his, “Wholly different practical realism” (1), which describes poetry as a response to or misinterpreting of another poet’s work. Each poem creates its own catalogue of texts responding to one another, with meaning lying between the two texts rather than singularly. In these first two paragraphs, Kolodny is explaining the basic premise of Bloom’s argument while also introcducing its fundamental flaw. This allows readers unfamiliar with bloom to gain an understanding, and for readers familiar with Bloom it may draw them in.

In the third paragraph Bloom’s argument is explained in greater detail that criticism is also a less drastic form of misinterpretation, and therefor replicates the poets process. Kolodny gives a hint of what is to come by referring to the mostly male readership of Bloom. In the fourth paragraph Kolodny gets towards her argument refuting Bloom by saying the interpretive strategies are learned and gender-inflected. Kolodny argues that Bloom’s concept is reliant upon a literary tradition and thereby excludes literature outside of that tradition. To drive the point home, Kolodny quotes Bloom saying there is no writing without imitation of generations past. Oddly this paragraph ends with quite a long quote which acts as Bloom using his own words to effectively dig his own grave.

The reason Kolodny uses four paragraphs to explain Bloom is to create a strong argument to make her counter-argument look even stronger. By explaining Bloom in such detail and then explaining the gendered nature of Bloom’s argument, Kolodny has already given strong evidence for her argument that the literary tradition is by default sexist because of its exclusion of women. In the fifth paragraph Kolodny gets to the heart of her argument discussing the exclusion of women from the literary tradition because of their sex. In the second to last sentence of the fifth paragraph Kolodny gives her thesis statement, which is that the lack of tradition will communicate itself to the reader and give them that sense of exclusion. Kolodny spends so much time explaining Bloom to establish that there is in fact a literary tradition and that its nature is exclusionary to multiple groups of people. To a certain extent, Kolodny begins the paper by piggybacking on Bloom’s argument, but essentially pulls the rug out from Bloom’s feet exposing how this concept of criticism, and response to poetry, ignores the bulk of literature and often alienates authors and readers.


Kolodny, Annette. “A Map for Rereading: Or, Gender and the Interpretation of Literary

Texts.” New Literary History.

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