Harold Bloom Discovers That What Writers Work Hardest On Isn’t What Readers Remember Most

from Bloom’s 1991 interview with The Paris Review:

You know, I’ve learned something over the years, picking up copies of my books in secondhand bookstores and in libraries, off people’s shelves. I’ve written so much and have now looked at so many of these books that I’ve learned a great deal. You also learn this from reviews and from things that are cited in other people’s books and so on, or from what people say to you—what you pride yourself on, the things that you think are your insight and contribution … no one ever even notices them. It’s as though they’re just for you. What you say in passing or what you expound because you know it too well, because it really bores you, but you feel you have to get through this in order to make your grand point, that’s what people pick up on. That’s what they underline. That’s what they quote. That’s what they attack, or cite favorably. That’s what they can use. What you really think you’re doing may or may not be what you’re doing, but it certainly isn’t communicated to others.