Michael Sinding: Frye, Bloom, White, Jameson


To the discussion about Bloom and Jameson from Jonathan Allan, Russell Perkin, and others, I’d add that since Bloom is at least as out as Frye, I don’t know how much Bloom’s distancing from Frye counts in Frye’s distance from the current scene. (Being irrelevant to Bloom is kind of a double-negative, like Don Quixote saying everyone ELSE is deluded.) Not that I have much to back this up with, but my sense is that Bloom’s theory was never really in, didn’t change the landscape, at least not as Frye did. Maybe he’s suffering the anxiety of his own lack-of-influence. I’m not sure if this disagrees with Russell’s note. A book may be indispensable for specialists without being greatly influential in terms of big pictures and long runs.

On this note, I have to wonder, why was Bloom chosen to introduce the Anatomy? Why not someone like Hayden White, who’s pretty clear about Frye’s value, not so self-regarding, and still relevant himself?

On another note, the Jameson connection is also important. But can we call him an early disciple? I didn’t get that impression from The Political Unconscious, where he’s already distant from Frye. But I don’t know much about Jameson outside of that. His argument in PU is intriguingly baroque—the systems of Frye and Propp and Greimas are all spun so that again, eureka, ‘everything fits together’ in the dialectic. Jameson’s criticism of Frye there is interesting, and might be worth getting into at some point, for itself, and as an indicator of attitudes to Frye. I’d be curious to know if there are different reasons for distancing in Jameson’s utopia book.

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