Re: “Archetype”


Reading Bob’s post on archetype reminds me how readily I have over the years slipped into referring to just about every verbal phenomenon in Frye as an “archeype” of some sort.  I have done so on the principle –which (as Bob also notes) Frye himself acknowledges — that he is an “archetypal critic” in the sense that archetype refers to a recurring pattern of signfication.  This seems consisent with Frye’s critical nomenclature generally: the dialectic at work in all of his criticism means that certain terms seem inevitably to expand their reference.  For scholars of my generation, for example, the key terms to understanding Frye seem invariably to be “myth,” “metaphor,” and “archetype.”  Without an expansive understanding of those words (but also with a very specific understanding that they possess immanent and not transcendental reference), we’d hardly know where to begin at all.

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