Daily Archives: February 25, 2011

Quote of the Day: “A co-operative state is necessary to preserve us from chaos”

Frye in correspondence with Helen Kemp:

“I think with the C.C.F [Co-operative Commonwealth Federation] that a co-operative state is necessary to preserve us from chaos.  I think with the Liberals that it is impossible to administer that state at present.  I think with the C.C.F. that man is unable, in a laissez faire system, to avoid running after false gods and destroying himself.  I think with Liberals that it is only by individual freedom and democratic development that any progress can be made.” (CW 1, 155-6)

Video of the Day: “The Koch brothers are out to bust unions”


Shepard Smith — apparently the only employee at Fox News who doesn’t follow Roger Ailes’s policy to lie — weighs in on the Wisconsin union busting effort and explains why it can be called that. Americans seem to have picked up on what’s really going on here: in a poll released yesterday, 61% said that they would oppose an effort in their state to deny unions collective bargaining rights. Decency trumps ideology. Maybe we can cautiously begin to expect more of that.

Canadian Conservatives: Whatever

Conservative senator Doug Finley: charged with election law violation

Four Conservatives, including two senators, have been charged with breaking federal election law on campaign spending.  Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey dismissed the charges, saying, “This is an accounting issue.”

That seems to be a pattern of behavior for conservatives everywhere these days: the law is for other people, particularly when it comes to any form of electoral malfeasance intended to gain or hold on to power.  It’s just another accounting issue.

Story here.

The History of Violets: Ready for a Frygian Reading

Jeannine Marie Pitas has recently translated a small book of poetry called The History of Violets by the Uruguyan poet Marosa di Giorgio.  Though a slim volume, the poetry is powerful and ripe for analysis.  In her introduction, Pitas writes: “For me, her poems recall the British Romantics – Wordsworth’s image of a child terrified by a jutting crag in his Prelude, or Blake’s awe before the little lamb’s innocence and the burning tiger’s power” (viii).  These poems stand out because of the imaginative power of a poet whose voice, whatever its sources, seems wholly her own.

Though I have not yet found the time to give the poems the critical attention they deserve, I can hear echoes of Frye’s Blake throughout.  As a scholar trained in Latin American Literature, I continue to believe that Frye has a great deal to teach us about a literature with which he evidently had little familiarity beyond an appreciation for Jorge Luis Borges. Just as the appeal of literature is universal, so are its archetypes and expression of prevailing human concerns.  When it comes to these two literary elements, Frye remains most relevant to the study of world literature.

You can order The History of Violets here.  Review here.

Di Giorgio reading one of her poems after the jump.

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Tennessee Williams


Blanche meets Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams died on this date in 1983 (born 1911).

Frye in The Educated Imagination cites Williams in his account of recurring archetypes in popular literature:

You notice that popular literature, the kind of stories that are read for relaxation, is always very highly conventionalized.  If you pick up a detective story, you may not know until the last page who done it, but you always know before you start reading exactly the kind of thing that’s going to happen.  If you read the fiction in women’s magazines, you read the story of Cinderella over and over again.  If you read Westerns, you’re reading a development of the pastoral convention, which turns up in writers of all ages, including Shakespeare.  It’s the same with characterization.  The tricky or boastful gods of ancient myths and primitive folk tales are characters of the same kind that turn up in Faulkner or Tennessee Williams. (CW 21, 449)