The terms “power” and “authority” have pragmatically opposed meanings in the realms of politics and what we still ought to call “imaginative literature.” If we have difficulty in seeing the opposition, it may be because of the intermediate realm that calls itself “spiritual.” Spiritual power and spiritual authority notoriously shade over into both politics and poetry. Thus we must distinguish the aesthetic power and authority of the Western Canon from whatever spiritual, political, or even moral consequences it may have fostered. Although reading, writing, and teaching are necessarily social acts, even teaching has its solitary aspect, a solitude only the two could share, in Wallace Stevens’s language. Gertrude Stein maintained that one wrote for oneself and for strangers, a superb recognition that I would extend into a parallel apothegm: one reads for oneself and for strangers. The Western Canon does not exist in order to augment preexisting societal elites. It is there to be read by you and by strangers, so that you and those you will never meet can encounter authentic aesthetic power and the authority of what Baudelaire (and Erich Auerbach after him) called “aesthetic dignity.” One of the ineluctable stigmata of the canonical is aesthetic dignity, which is not to be hired. 
--from 'The Western Canon'; Harold Bloom

[via biblioklept]

I'll add on that today is Paul Auster's birthday, who can be quoted, similarly: the novel is really one of the only places in the world where two strangers can meet on terms of absolute intimacy. The reader and the writer make the book together. You as a reader enter the consciousness of another person, and in doing so I think you discover something about your own humanity, and it makes you feel more alive.

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