Today in the Frye Diaries, 29 August

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1942:

[88] Read Oscar Levant’s Smattering of Ignorance. Gossipy and malicious: quite good on Hollywood’s bag-of-tricks approach to sound tracks. If a producer gets less than tutti he feels gypped. Conventional “sweep” for opening: i.e. harp glissando, ascending-scale violin passages & woodwinds, ff [fortissimo], then cymbals crash on first beat, then grandiose tuttis.

1950: A banner day: Frye has a big breakthrough on the paper that will eventually be published as “A Conspectus of  Dramatic Genres,” in The Kenyon Review 13 (Winter 1951).  This paper — along with “The Archetypes of Literature” also written during this same summer — is one of the foundations of what would later emerge as Anatomy of Criticism (1957).

[581] Today I was still very groggy & still didn’t feel I could go in swimming. One good thing is that my Kenyon Review paper has suddenly started to clear up. It’s clearing up so damn fast I can hardly keep up with it. Part One has boiled down perfectly out of what I had & Part Two came along beautifully this afternoon: it meant cutting out a lot of stuff, but the net result is one of the most concentrated & best integrated articles I’ve ever produced. No splutter, no gargle, no leers, no attempt to fasten pedantic teeth in the arse of somebody else. Nothing but dry fact and obvious truth, expressed with overwhelming concentration and great simplicity. In short, an article to rank with the Argument of Comedy and the Forms of Prose Fiction, only on an even bigger subject.

Tomorrow: the wartime draft blows close to home; “A Conspectus of Dramatic Genres” all but complete, an end of summer tour

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