One thought on “Frye Alert

  1. Joe Adamson

    Thank you for this, Michael. This is a great find, a must-read and one that bears repeated reading. Beaugrande is superb on both Frye’s encyclopedic range and the diagrammatic and spatial aspect of his work, which Bob complements beautifully with his post today (“the key to all mythologies”). As a linguist Beaugrande is able to offer a detailed and incisive evaluation of the significance of Frye’s most systematic work, the Anatomy. I take the liberty of quoting from his closing statement:

    “His range, depth, and complexity make Frye’s presence on the theoretical scene hard to ignore, even many years later. He is cited expressly in the works of all the other critics I review except Millett. His conception of reading by expanding one’s frames of reference is widely shared, notably by Iser, Jauss, Bleich, Holland, Hartman, Hirsch, and Jameson (who even views his own scheme of ‘semantic horizons’ as ‘dialectic equivalents’ of Frye’s ‘phases,’ PU 75). The fearful symmetry in Frye’s balanced oppositions, his exhilarated schematising and taxonomising, his accumulation of generic parallels and contrasts, and his bristling terminology, anticipate the methods of structuralism; and Frye’s work might well be saluted as the more comprehensive and insightful. He deploys ‘deliberate shifts in context’ (letter to me) as part of his design to include everything without reducing its individual status or dissolving its uniqueness. This ambition anticipates deconstruction as well, especially his tendencies to remain in oscillation, to invert hierarchical oppositions, and to assign centres to marginal forms. So even if his terms and schemes may not reappear intact very often within more recent critical theory, his total achievement might be seen as one of the spatial models he likes so much, one with limitless room to expand, absorb, and integrate.”

    Beaugrande is a heavy hitter. Here is his wiki:

    “Robert-Alain de Beaugrande (1946– June 2008) was a text linguist and discourse analyst, one of the leading figures of the Continental tradition in the discipline. He was one of the developers of the Vienna School of text linguistics, and published the seminal Introduction to text linguistics in 1981, with Wolfgang U. Dressler. He was also a major figure in the consolidation of critical discourse analysis.

    De Beaugrande served as professor of English linguistics at the University of Vienna from 1991 to 1997, Professor of English Language at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, Professor of English and English Linguistics at the University of Florida at Gainesville, and later as visiting professor in several universities in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.”


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