Today in the Frye Diaries, 24 August


Today is the Fryes’ wedding anniversary: their fifth in 1942 and their thirteenth in 1950.


A bad double feature at the movies (Through Different Eyes and Rings on Her Fingers) — complete with annoying gender stereotypes — leaves Frye in a mood to address “the war of the sexes”:

 [77] People are human beings first and men and women afterwards. Their bodily functions are different; their environments are different, though the difference in this century has been greatly decreased. So there may be generalizations of the ‘men are like this whereas women are like that’ kind which may have some hazy and approximate truth. I don’t know. Men’s conversation is more abstract & less personal than women’s, but whether that’s an accident of training or an essential sexual trait I don’t know. I do know that the kind of mind that thinks along these lines of facile anitheses is a dull & tiresome mind. It betrays a fixation on sex-differences which is mere adolescence, & in an adult unhealthy.

1950: A very hot day of shopping in Boston. Then an anniversary dinner:

[570] We went to the Bella Vista for dinner, which Dick Ellmann had recommended as the best place in town, but it wasn’t any hell — not nearly as good as the Viennese place. However, it was all right, though we were outdoors on a roof under an umbrella, and I’d have done better in an air-conditioned interior [because of hay fever]. Beside us was a young man who’d just got his Ph.D and was celebrating. His conversation got louder with his drinks & was a mixture of of cultural & personal remarks that, considered as a pattern, gave me quite an insight into the Harvard level of student sophistication, though it’s difficult to say just what it was.

Tomorrow: an enigmatic reference to the Vicar of Bray; hay fever as psychosomatic illness?

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One thought on “Today in the Frye Diaries, 24 August

  1. Ed Lemond

    In August, 1936, one year before their marriage, Frye and his wife-to-be were going through a very rough patch, including the turmoil around Helen’s abortion and his preparations for departure to England. In a couple of his letters from Moncton (the first dated August 10, the last dated August 29) he mentions a neighbour by the name of Cormier, a good friend of his father’s. Cormier, “a mere trainman,” had what Frye believed to be the “best library in Moncton,” put together over 20 years of buying from a bookstore in England, with a heavy (in every sense of the word) emphasis on anthropology, comparative religion, and evolutionary theory. Haeckel, Frazer, that sort of thing, all “very dogmatic and violently anti-clerical.” This library eventually ended up in the hands (literally in the fraying boxes) of a descendant (a grand-daughter probably, with an unforgettable name, Beer), and in 1994, in my capacity as a used book store owner, I purchased what must have been almost the entire collection. It was the most spectacular purchase of my 21-year career as a book dealer, including the complete first edition Golden Bough, complete 1882 Arabian Nights, first American editions of Darwin’s masterpieces, etc. More than a thousand books, all hardcover, all in wonderful condition, despite the years. Frye was impressed by the books Cormier collected but not by the company he kept, most of whom Frye found to be “pig-headed.”
    Ed Lemond, Frye Festival, Moncton


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