Daily Archives: September 5, 2009

Query: Alphabet of Forms?


A number of Frye’s books now housed in the Frye Collection at Victoria University have laid in a small sheet or card on which Frye constructed a table of twenty-six lines, beginning with the seven-letter sequences “y o u a u o y,” “y o u b u o y,” “y o u c u o y” and continuing through the alphabet to “y o u z u o y.”  Occasionally he made one of these grids with the “y” omitted, making a five-letter sequence (“o u a u o,” o u b u o,” etc.), and in at least one case there is a chart with only three letters in the twenty-six line column: “u a u,” “u b u,” and so on.  The grids are almost always incomplete: one or more of the slots will be blank, the initial letter having been omitted.  Some of the grids have the letter “a” added to the right and left sides.  There are dozens of these mysterious palindromic sequences, and they can be found as well scattered throughout Frye’s notebooks and other manuscripts in the Frye papers.  Might a blogger out there know what this “alphabet of forms” is all about?  Might it have some connection to the secret name of the seven-day week that Robert Graves deciphers in The White Goddess or to one of Graves’s other alphabet riddles? (Pictured above, a rendering of Robert Graves’ symbolism representing the essential nature of the White Goddess.)

Today in the Frye Diaries, 5 September


1942: The shape of things to come…

[97] Listened to Information Please programme last night.  I wonder what the popular appeal of that programme is based on: I think partly on the enormous prestige enjoyed by a man who is well-informed on non-controversial subjects. The amount of actual erudition [John] Kieran gets a chance to display is not impressive, as such things go, but shuch things go a long way, like the polysyllables of Goldsmith‘s schoolmaster [The Deserted Village, l. 213: Ed. “While words of learned length and thundering sound”]. By means of it I succeeded in scaring the shit out of [Bobby] Morrison and Beattie, who make three times the money I do. One doesn’t realilze the immense social prestige of the university until one gets a little outside of it. Speaking of them, I wonder if the dry rot at the basis of their lives is significant of an economic change in which the bustling, successful, money-making, super-selling young man is no longer a pure clear-eyed Alger hero but an embittered souse.

1950: Some inconsequential gossip as the new school year begins.