“Small World”


Responding to Bob Denham’s earlier post:

Bob, A quibble about Frye and David Lodge (whom I have been working on recently). Lodge’s Small World is self-consciously “An Academic Romance,” and Lodge used Frye’s writings on romance to help him think about the genre. But I don’t think that his Professor Kingfisher has much in common with Frye. Kingfisher, “a man whose life is a concise history of modern criticism,” is born in Vienna, and has links to Prague structuralism before coming to the USA to become a leading figure in New Criticism. All of that makes him resemble Rene Wellek, who of course wrote a history of criticism. (In other ways, the character does not correspond to Wellek.) I remember that Lodge once commented in an interview that his deconstructionist friends, who in their theorizing denied any connexion between literature and any non-linguistic reality, were the ones who were most adamant in their questions about who various characters in Small World “really” were! From an archetypal point of view, the name Kingfisher signals that the character originates in Jessie Weston’s From Ritual to Romance via T. S. Eliot, so the idea for the character was perhaps inspired by Frye’s theorizing of romance.

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