Daily Archives: May 15, 2010

Saturday Night at the Movies: Phantom of the Opera


The movie that haunted Frye as a child, The Phantom of the Opera. (The full movie appears at the link above.)

Frye in “Notebook 12”:

I have a feeling — probably it is just one of those would-be profound feelings that it’s comfortable to have — that I cannot really get at the centre of a problem unless something in it goes back to childhood impressions.  Thus my New Comedy ideas, the core of everything I did after Blake, go back to my [Horatio] Alger reading, and now I think the clue to this labyrinth is the sentimental romance of the 19th century, the roots of which are in Scott.  While I lived on Bathurst St. I was constantly reading ghost stories with similar patterns in mind, & Poe & Hawthorne have always been favorites.  Underground caves; the Phantom of the Opera & the like, are all part of the Urthona penseroso pattern.  (CW 9, 141-2)

Emily Dickinson


On this date Emily Dickinson died (1830 – 1886).

Frye in his essay “Emily Dickinson”:

Like Blake, with whom she has been compared ever since Higginson’s preface of the 1890 volume, Emily Dickinson shows us two contrary states of the human soul, a vision of innocence and a vision of “experience”, or ordinary life.  One is a vision of “Presence,” the other of “Place”; in one the primary fact of life is partnership, in the other it is parting.  Thus she may say, depending on the context, both “Were Departure Separation, there would be neither Nature nor Art, for there would be no World” and “Parting is all we know of heaven, / And all we need of hell.” (CW 17, 266)

An adaptation of “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” after the jump.

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Quote of the Day


“I do not recall reading any literary criticism, as opposed to literary biography, until I was an undergraduate. At seventeen I purchased Northrop Frye’s study of William Blake, Fearful Symmetry, soon after its publication. What Hart Crane was to me at ten, Frye became at seventeen, an overwhelming experience. Frye’s influence on me lasted twenty years but came tumbling down on my thirty-seventh birthday, when I awakened from a nightmare and then passed the entire day in composing a dithyramb, “The Covering Cherub or Poetic Influence.” Six years later, that had evolved into The Anxiety of Influence, a book Frye rightly rejected, from his Christian Platonist stance. Now, at seventy-eight, I would not have the patience to reread anything by Frye but I possess almost all of Hart Crane by memory, recite much of it daily and continue teaching him. I came to value other contemporary critics—Empson and Kenneth Burke particularly—but have now dispensed with reading them also. Samuel Johnson, William Hazlitt, Walter Pater, Emerson, Oscar Wilde I go on reading as I do the poets.”

Harold Bloom, “The Point of View for My Work as a Critic: A Dithyramb.”  The Hopkins Review 2, no. 1 (Winter 2009), New Series: 28–48.