When Peter Cook died in 1995, John Cleese said of him that while he needed three hours to write a three minute sketch, Cook could do it in three minutes. And that, Cleese concluded, is the definition of genius: the ability to do it in real time.
Above is a clip from the lovely little English comedy from swinging 1967, Bedazzled, in which Cook, as Satan, tries to make a Faustian bargain with the hapless Stanley Moon, played by Dudley Moore. And, in making the argument, he illustrates the principle that it is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.
We had our Volunteer Appreciation Party last night at Atlantic Lottery Corporation. What an amazing group of people who contribute so much to our community. We had door prizes for everyone and the opportunity to thank them all for driving authors to school visits, conducting audience surveys at events, taking tickets at the door, playing word bingo with kids at KidsFest, and so much more!
I am lobbying hard to have a new school in Moncton named “Northrop Frye Elementary”…we shall see! Thanks to Robert Denham (via Ed Lemond) for the definition of “Northrop”.
Sadly, I remain “ni-lingual” (incapable of speaking or writing in English or in French), so I don’t have any enormous insights on the Festival yet (sorry Michael!).
As promised, here is the full text of our poet flyé’s (Jesse Robichaud) Poem Flyé. Jesse is a journalist for our local paper, the Times and Transcript and is a gifted, bilingual writer. He told me today that he considers “the festival one of the best things about Moncton, and also symbolic of the best things about Moncton”. Jesse delivered this poem at the Greater Moncton International Airport at our closing and it will have a permanent presence at the airport.
My Frye Google Alert alerted me to a blog entry that reads in part, “this reminds me of something one of the more learned people Canada has ever produced, Northrop Frye, once wrote: education doesn’t make bad people good; it makes them more dangerous.”
Thanks to Bob Denham we have the actual quote from “Wisdom and Knowledge“: “Education makes a bad man more dangerous; it does not make him a better man.” (CW 5, 308)
Please join us at Emmanuel College on May 14 and 15 for “Crucified Woman” Reborn: Current Responses, a conference in honour of the sculpture by Almuth Lutkenhaus-Lackey and all that she represents.
Conference speakers and workshop leaders will include: Doris Jean Dyke, author of Crucified Woman (1991); Rita Leistner, photojournalist; Marjory Noganosh, Ojibway elder and healer; Pat Capponi, writer and activist; Noelle Boughton, author and editor; Marion Botsford Fraser, writer; Sophie Jungreis, artist; Samantha Cavanagh, artist and dancer; Property Smith, harm reduction worker specializing in work with at-risk youth, drug users, and sex trade workers; and Anne Hines, author and humour/lifestyle columnist.
We also invite submissions of poetry on topics related to and/or inspired by the sculpture. We hope to be able to publish a selection of the poems submitted (subject to their approval by a selection committee and the obtaining of a publisher) together with the proceedings for the conference.
Please pass on the information and the poster to anyone you think will be interested. (Click here for the registration form and here for the conference program.)
Warm regards and hope to see you there!
In his lecture on the novel for English 3f on November 9th 1953, Frye observes that Laurence Sterne’s “Tristram Shandy is the greatest English novel.”
You can see a collection of Frye’s superlatives from an earlier post here.
The trailer for a loose film adaptation of the novel, A Cock and Bull Story, after the jump.
On this date in 1749 Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks was first performed in London.
The performance here is on period instruments. Part 2 after the jump.
Pratt in 1944
On this date E. J. Pratt died (1882 – 1964).
Frye in “Ned Pratt: The Personal Legend,” published in the summer 1964 issue of Canadian Literature to commemorate Pratt’s death:
In my fourth year as an undergraduate I was editor of the college magazine, and had to administer a prize of ten dollars for the best poem contributed. The poems came in, and I took them to Ned. Ned didn’t recommend an award. What he did was put his finger on one poem and say, “Now this one — it has some feeling, some sensitivity, some sense of structure. But — well, damn it, it isn’t worth money.” I have never found a profounder insight into literary values, and I was lucky to have it so early. As a graduate student I was his assistant when he became the first editor of Canadian Poetry Magazine. I am not saying that what was printed in those opening issues was imperishable, but it was certainly the best of what we got. What impressed me was the number of people (it was the Depression, and the magazine paid a dollar or two) who tried to get themselves or their friends in by assuming Ned was a soft touch. In some ways he was, but he was not compromising the standards of poetry to be so: poetry was something he took too seriously. And, as I realized more clearly later, friendship was also something he took too seriously to compromise. People who thought him a soft touch were never his friends. He could be impulsively, even quixotically, generous to bums and down-and-outs, and I think I understand why. His good will was not benevolence, not a matter of being a sixty-year-old smiling public man. It was rather an enthusiasm that one was alive, rooted in a sense of childlike wonder at human existence and the variety of personality. This feeling was so genuine and so deep in him that I think he felt rather guilty when approached by someone towards whom he was actually indifferent. (CW 21, 327-28)
Oscar Wilde, one of Frye’s favorite critics, observes in The Critic as Artist, one of Frye’s favorite critical works, “Yes, the public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.”
Great quip. Except of course that it can be proven wrong, as demonstrated yet again this year by Moncton’s Frye Festival. Every genius should be so fortunate to be so warmly and generously embraced by the hometown crowd, year in and year out. The most artistic of critics, Frye would no doubt have loved the fact that the festival held in his honor is a celebration of the arts first and foremost. The good people of Moncton have not only done it again but done it right.
Features in the Moncton Times & Transcript by local high school students here, here and here.
The Frye Academy with the Frye Academy Award
Sunday, April 25, 2010
We made it! The authors are all on their way home and the past week is feeling somewhat surreal.
This morning we had what I think may have been the nicest Brunch and Books ever. This is always an extremely powerful event since The Greater Moncton Literacy Advisory Board’s Adult New Writers Contest award-winners and their tutors are in attendance. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation is a long-time sponsor of this event and Courtney Pringle-Carver, the ALC’s Senior Public Affairs Counsel (and a Frye Festival Board Member) did a fabulous job of presenting the awards and the authors.
The adult new writers are always inspiring and courageous. I was surprised by how young some of the award-winners were today. Typically, the awards have been won by much older people. It seemed very positive to me that they were younger than usual, perhaps this is an indication that the illiteracy taboo might be changing somewhat.
Beth Powning an award-winning New Brunswick author, who had been involved in a fascinating book project called Breaking the Word Barrier: Stories of Adults Learning to Read spoke extremely eloquently about this idea of “taboo” when it comes to illiteracy in our society. She talked of meeting the newly literate Linda and how difficult it was initially to speak about this. Beth wrote a beautiful tribute to Linda called The Word for Love.
Watching the hard-working Tidewater Book Shop staff pack up the Festival bookshop really brought home to me the fact that the Festival was almost over. I don’t know what their numbers are yet, but despite all the books they were packing up, they seemed quite pleased with their sales.
Then, it was to the quickly disassembling headquarters to ensure that our press release was correct. Members of the media started calling, lining up interviews for after the closing ceremony. Local CBC journalist Michael R. LeBlanc had unearthed old audio of Northrop Frye speaking about Moncton’s “amicable apartheid” and wanted to speak about the role the Festival plays in bringing our two distinct cultures together. Luckily, I had a few stories of authors who had commented on this, including Noah Richler’s obsession with the simultaneous translation devices and how no one seemed to need them in Moncton. I also received an excellent anecdote from Roxanne Richard and Danielle LeBlanc concerning comments that both Annabel Lyon and Steven Galloway had made about the fact that this Festival is the only book event they had ever done where they were able to meet French authors too. They both loved the bilingual nature of the Festival.
Today is the great Ella Fitzgerald‘s birthday (1917 – 1996).
One sample won’t do it. Above is her 1956 version of “Blue Moon,” and it proves a point: when Ella sings the most familiar of standards, you hear it like it’s the first time. That voice. Always that voice.
After the jump, some rare footage and live performances. And, yes, of course, a couple of duets with Louis Armstrong.