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Rereading Frye

Rereading Frye: The Published and the Unpublished Works

Series: Frye Studies
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 352
  • Book Info
    Rereading Frye
    Book Description:

    This collection of essays begins the process of reassessing Frye's thought and writings in light of extraordinary, unpublished material contained in archives at the Victoria University Library, University of Toronto.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7925-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-viii)
    D.V.B and I.L.S
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. xix-2)

    They might concur on little else, but most academic literary critics today would surely agree that the sort of 'literary chit-chat which makes the reputations of poets boom and crash in an imaginary stock exchange … cannot be part of any systematic study.' If few critics would now admit to seeing the common pursuit of true judgment as their assigned role, however, dealing on the literary stock exchange has not actually been suspended in recent years so much as diversified, with the reputations of critics themselves now traded as briskly as those of poets ever were. And over the four...

  8. The Frye Papers
    (pp. 3-18)

    The present volume is the first of its kind to draw substantially on the Northrop Frye papers at the Victoria University Library at the University of Toronto. This extensive collection of manuscripts, which occupies some twenty-three metres of shelf-space, was deposited in the library over the course of twenty-six years, beginning in 1967. By far the most important of the Northrop Frye fonds came to the library following Frye's death in 1991. They contain files of Frye's correspondence, books, articles, notebooks, diaries, notes, professional papers, offprints, and audio-visual materials, plus a large body of miscellaneous material. Included in the collection...

  9. The Book of the Dead: A Skeleton Key to Northrop Frye’s Notebooks
    (pp. 19-38)

    ‘Everybody has a fixation,’ says Northrop Frye at one point in the four thousand or so pages of notebook material he left behind him at his death in 1991. ’Mine has to do with meander-and-descent patterns. For years in my childhood I wanted to dig a cave & be the head of a society in it - this was before I read Tom Sawyer. All the things in literature that haunt me most have to do with katabasis [descent movement]. The movie that hit me hardest as a child was the Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera. My main points of...

  10. Frye and the Art of Memory
    (pp. 39-54)

    The long tradition of phenomenological literary scholarship has made us accustomed to looking at an author's works in order to try to discover, through those works, a sense of the way in which the author experienced his or her world - to find, if you like, a map of the author's mind. Would it be possible, by analogy, to look in criticism for a guide or map to the critic's mind? Obviously, just as this works best with writers like Dickens or Joyce who seem to contain an entire world, so it would only work with major critics who have...

  11. The Quest for the Creative Word: Writing in the Frye Notebooks
    (pp. 55-71)

    Northrop Frye, despite his gift for language and structure, could not find a place as a novelist. In his notebooks, however, Frye is given to the invention of possible worlds of putative novels. Occasionally, he writes a paragraph, a sketch, or a fragment of a novel, but we do not have a novel by Frye in a finished and published form. Even though he published some poetry and short fiction, and over twenty books of cultural, biblical, and literary criticism, Frye could not, or would not, complete a novel for a reading public. But his desire to be a novelist...

  12. The Treason of the Clerks: Frye, Ideology, and the Authority of Imaginative Culture
    (pp. 72-102)

    Frye speaks at the beginning ofThe Great Codeof his creative repetitions, of the way he keeps coming back to an old insight and renewing it in a more fully developed context. The epigraph to this essay, taken fromThe Secular Scripture, is in fact a reworking of a statement Frye made inAnatomy of Criticismtwenty years before:

    Just as no argument in favor of a religious or political doctrine is of any value unless it is an intellectually honest argument, and so guarantees the autonomy of logic, so no religious or political myth is either valuable or...

  13. Northrop Frye as a Cultural Theorist
    (pp. 103-121)

    In Frye’s generation, those involved in the academic study of English literature were mainly historical scholars who engaged in source studies because they held that a literary work being the product of its author’s life and times reflected its background of ideas, beliefs, reading, and events. In reaction, some of these later became critics ‐ at that time a strongly pejorative label ‐ who read a literary work ’as such’ apart from all its literary and historical sources. Scholars may have enjoyed reading Milton’sParadiseLost as a poem rather than as a Puritan tract but in their professional endeavours...

  14. Reading Frye in Hungary: The Frustrations and Hopes of a Frye Translator
    (pp. 122-139)

    Reading Frye in Hungary seems almost to be a story of non-reading. So far, no serious study has appeared that addresses both the theoretical and practical implications of Frye’s critical system with regard to Hungarian literature and criticism. However, the story of Frye in Hungary may still prove to be interesting and important from a cultural-historical point of view.

    The way in which I have come to this story is that exactly ten years ago I proposed the publication in Hungarian ofThe Great Code. The publisher accepted the idea and contracted me to do the translation. But just before...

  15. Interpenetration as a Key Concept in Frye’s Critical Vision
    (pp. 140-163)

    One does not read very far in Frye before realizing that he is a dialectical thinker, his mind repeatedly moving back and forth between opposing poles of reference: knowledge and experience, space and time, stasis and movement, the individual and society, tradition and innovation, Platonic synthesis and Aristotelian analysis, engagement and detachment, freedom and concern,mythos and dianoia, the world and the grain of sand, immanence and transcendence, and scores of other oppositions. A second self-evident feature of Frye's expansive body of work is its drive toward unity. He always resists the Kierkegaardian 'either/or' solution. But for Frye unity is...