Northrop Frye's Notebooks on Renaissance Literature

Northrop Frye's Notebooks on Renaissance Literature

Edited by Michael Dolzani
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 554
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Northrop Frye's Notebooks on Renaissance Literature
    Book Description:

    Michael Dolzani divides these notes into three categories: those on Spenser and the epic tradition; those on Shakespearean drama and, more widely, the dramatic tradition from Old Comedy to the masque; and those on lyric poetry and non-fiction prose.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2085-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Frye’s Abbreviations for Titles of Shakespeare’s Poems and Plays
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xxi-liv)

    Although his first book,Fearful Symmetry(1947), rehabilitated the reputation of William Blake from the status of minor eccentric to that of major Romantic poet, Northrop Frye in fact identified Blake as a poet and himself as a critic not with Romanticism but with the Renaissance.Fearful Symmetryspeaks of Blake as attempting to revive the tradition of

    the great cosmopolitan humanist culture which arose in Europe between the Renaissance and the Reformation. The writers and scholars who form this culture—Erasmus, Rabelais, Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, Reuchlin, the More ofUtopia,Ficino, and Pico della Mirandola being the most conspicuous...

  7. Published and Forthcoming Notebooks
    (pp. lv-lx)
  8. Part I

    • Guggenheim Fellowship Application, 1949
      (pp. 3-5)

      This is the narrative portion of Frye’s application for a Guggenheim fellowship, submitted 31 October 1949. The complete application and related correspondence are in the NFF, 1988, box 39, file 4.

      [1] 5. Plans for Work

      In 1947 I completed a study of Blake’s prophetic books (Fearful Symmetry, A Study of William Blake,Princeton University Press, 1947) which raised critical questions of much broader scope than the criticism of Blake. I discovered that the only critical methods that would work on Blake were those that had been explicitly recommended for allegorical poetry in general by medieval and Renaissance criticism. Thus...

    • Notes 60-1
      (pp. 6-8)

      Like most of the sets of typed notes floating unorganized in the Northrop Frye Fonds, Notes 60-1 cannot be dated with any certainty, beyond saying that they cannot have been composed earlier than 1950, the date of the first edition of Caster’sThespis.A more probable date is late 1962 or early 1963, around the time of the earlier portions of Notebook 9, which allude to the revised edition of Caster’s book, published in 1961. At that point, Frye was thinking about the ritual origins of drama, and about literature’s progress “from ritual to romance.” The typescript is located in...

    • Notebook 43
      (pp. 9-92)

      Although unbound, this series of holograph notes has been designated a notebook. It dates from 1949-50. As John Ayre recounts (226–7), in September 1950 Frye had broken his right arm in a car accident. However, “He was faithful to his Guggenheim grant plans and dictated notes for the Spenser book from a large rocking chair” (226). Notebook 43 is undoubtedly those notes: the running commentary on Spenser’sFaerie Queene,book by book and canto by canto, in Fryes handwriting, leaves off after book 2, canto 2 (paragraph 61). It takes up, in Helen Kemp Frye’s handwriting, with book 3, canto...

    • Notes 55-6
      (pp. 93-96)

      Notes 55-6 consists of a fragmentary commentary on Spenser’sMutabilitie Cantoes,with no clues as to date. Along with other miscellaneous, unrelated typescripts, it resides in the NFF, 1991, box 28, file 3d. Throughout this particular typescript, “M.” stands for Mutability. Spenser’s publisher claimed that theMutabilitie Cantoeswere a fragment of a seventh book ofThe Faerie Queene,so all references to particular lines should be assumed to be from such.

      [1] Mutability is the daughter of Titan, and evidently one of the Titanesses (this word seems to be Spenser’s coinage) given power again by Jove after the original...

  9. Part II

    • Notebook 8
      (pp. 99-213)

      In his Guggenheim application of 1949, Frye writes, “For the last four years I have been collecting and sorting out material for a comprehensive study of Renaissance Symbolism” He goes on to say that he has classified his notes into three main groups, concerned with epic, drama, and prose fiction respectively. Notebook 8 is the repository of his early notes on drama; it thus begins around 1946, a date corroborated by reference to aPartisan Reviewarticle from 1947 in paragraph 155, and to the Pelican edition of Ruth Benedict’sPatterns of Culture,which was in print from 1946, in...

    • Notebook 9
      (pp. 214-285)

      Located in the NFF, 1991, box 22, Notebook 9 falls into three parts. The first thirty-three numbered pages are mostly indecipherable, cancelled drafting for the Massey Lectures that becameThe Educated Imagination,along with fragmentary notes on miscellaneous topics; all of this material has been omitted from theCollected Worksexcept for three initial lists that attempt a classification of Shakespearean comedies and tragedies. Following these are 46 pages of notes for the Bampton Lectures that were turned intoA Natural Perspective,numbered separately by Frye with the prefix “Sh.” Finally, fifty-six pages of notes for the Alexander Lectures, which...

    • Notebook 13a
      (pp. 286-296)

      Notebook 13, from which two excerpts are reproduced in the present volume, is something of a catch-all. It begins with a series of notes on Shakespeare’s sonnets, designated Notebook 13b, to be found in part 3, below. Then follow some brief notes for Frye’s book on T.S. Eliot and some drafts of paragraphs and lists of chapter topics forThe Return of Eden,not included here. Five paragraphs, titled “Notes on Ben Jonson,” are separated by two miscellaneous paragraphs (omitted) from the remainder of the notebook, which consists of notes towards the Alexander Lectures on Shakespearean tragedy, which becameFools...

    • Notes 54-13
      (pp. 297-320)

      The first paragraph of Notes 54-13 informs us that they were composed between early 1980, when Frye gave the Larkin-Stuart Lectures that becameCreation and Recreation,and March 1981, when he delivered the Tamblyn Lectures at the University of Western Ontario, later published asThe Myth of Deliverance.These typed notes for the Tamblyn Lectures, on Shakespeare’s problem comedies, are in the NFF, 1991, box 28, file 4.

      [1] If there is anything to my seven/eight phases of revelation scheme,¹ I can use the series of public lectures I’ve been asked to give in exploring the different ones. I’ve done...

    • Notes 58-5
      (pp. 321-341)

      These typed notes onHamlet, King Lear,and Romeoand Juliet aresomehow connected with Frye’s undergraduate lectures on Shakespeare: paragraph 17 roughs out three lectures onHamletand paragraph 34 sketches three “essay-lectures” onLear.Such a procedure was unusual for Frye, whose notes for class lectures usually consisted of a single file card listing the location of key passages in the text. The term “essay-lectures” may indicate, however, his awareness that this particular set of lectures would be recorded, transcribed, and eventually turned intoNorthrop Frye on Shakespeare.At any rate, these notes echo many passages of that...

    • Notebook 29
      (pp. 342-345)

      A brief series of notes apparently composed by Frye in the process of turning his undergraduate lectures intoNorthrop Frye on Shakespeare,which they echo at various points, Notebook 29 dates from sometime prior to 1986, when that book was published. It is located in the NFF, 1991, box 25.

      [1] H: We’re imprisoned by what we’ve done, but unless we’ve committed a major crime like Claudius we’re not too crippled by it: we adjust to the gradual narrowing of our abilities and interests. But there’s a deeper imprisonment in what we are (“characterological armor”¹ or whatever), and Hamlet is...

    • Notes 58-7
      (pp. 346-360)

      This is a series of notes on the masque, written in preparation for parts 2 and 3 of Frye’s essay “Romance as Masque,” which were originally presented at the Second Alabama Symposium on English and American Literature at the University of Alabama, 16-18 October 1975. Part 1 of that essay, for which no preliminary notes survive, was originally delivered as a lecture in Stratford, England, and published, in revised form, in Shakespeare Survey, 22 (1969) as “Old and New Comedy.” The complete essay was first published inSpiritus Mundi,148-78, and was reprinted inSeSCT,125-51. The separate portions of...

  10. Part III

    • Notebook 13b
      (pp. 363-372)

      The first part of Notebook 13, here designated Notebook 13b, consists of a series of double entries. Both are on Shakespeare’s sonnets: the notes on the recto pages, which appear here as notes 1-24, examine the overall patterns of the entire sequence; the notes on the verso pages, here given as 25-35 but numbered 1-11 by Frye, are a sonnet-by-sonnet analysis that is soon abandoned (after Sonnet 11). Obviously related to “How True a Twain,” Frye’s essay on the sonnets, these notes are thereby dated prior to 1962. Frye’s occasional brackets are represented by braces; presumably he added these while...

    • Notebook 14b
      (pp. 373-379)

      Notebook 14, located in the NFF, 1991, box 24, splits into two bodies of material The first half, published inNorthrop Frye’s Notebooks on Romanceas Notebook 14a, consists of notes on Wolfram von Eschenbach’sParzival.A reference to the Alexander Lectures as being in the past means that the date for this part of the notebook must be after 1967; references to the Third Book project suggest a cutoff date around 1972. The second half, published here as Notebook 14b, is a series of notes on Robert Chester’sLoves Martyr,and probably comes from roughly the same period: a...

    • Notes 58-6
      (pp. 380-388)

      A series of typed notes related to “Natural and Revealed Communities,” presented as the Thomas More Lecture in the Humanities at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, 22 April 1987, later published inMyth and Metaphor(289-306). The typescript for Notes 58-6 is located in the NFF, box 36, file 8.

      [1] The Prince and the Courtier were the two primary social facts in the secular life of the Renaissance. The idea of each collided with each other. The perfect courtier was an individualized educational Utopia: he was to be sensitive to every cultural aspect of his society,...

  11. Appendix: Frye’s Books and Articles on Shakespeare and Drama
    (pp. 389-392)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 393-472)
  13. Index
    (pp. 473-494)