Monthly Archives: September 2012

Ready Reference: A List of the Contents of the Collected Works

A List of the Volumes of the Collected Works of Northrop Frye with the Contents of Each, along with a Notation of the Books by Frye in which the Separate Items Originally Appeared and an Alphabetical Title Index

 Even those who are quite familiar with Frye’s work cannot always remember the general subject of a given volume in the Collected Works.  The present list, the need for which was suggested to me by Michael Dolzani, provides a ready reference to the contents of each volume, like the list of books and their contents that one finds at the back of each volume of The Collected Works of C.G. Jung.  Twenty‑nine of the thirty volumes of Frye’s Collected Works are not available in paperback, which means that those who would like to have the complete published writings would have to lay out a large sum of money––more than $3300 if ordered from the University of Toronto Press.  Readers of Frye, however, may have some or perhaps all of Frye’s separately published books, so the present list, along with the index, can assist them in finding the CW volume that contains the item they are looking for, as well as the book in which the item originally appeared.  The present list consists of two parts.  The first part gives the contents of each volume in the Collected Works, and for those items that were published in one of Frye’s books, the book title is given after the title of the article.  For example, “Crime and Sin in the Bible” ● Myth and Metaphor, 255–69.  The second part is an index of all of Frye’s titles, followed by the CW volume in which they can be found.  For example, “Language as the Home of Human Life” ● CW 7: 577–90.  This second list is similar to what can be found in Jean O’Grady’s stellar index for the Collected Works (CW 30), though I have not separated lectures and speeches (O’Grady’s section II.1) from published or completed works (her section II.5).

Many of Frye’s articles, reviews, and occasional pieces were never included in an edited collection.  They, of course, will not be followed by the title of a book in part 1.  I have not listed the titles of the one hundred eleven interviews in CW 24, Interviews with Northrop Frye.  The list, along with the index, if copied and printed, can serve as a handy guide to the CW, or it may be copied and stored as a searchable electronic file.  ––Robert Denham

 Volumes 1 and 2

The Correspondence of Northrop Frye and Helen Kemp, 1932–1939.  Ed. Robert D. Denham.  2 vols.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996.  xxxii + ix + 979 pp.

 Volume 3

Northrop Frye’s Student Essays, 1932–1938.  Ed. Robert D. Denham.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997.  xxix + 557 pp.


“The Basis of Primitivism”


“Robert Browning: An Abstract Study”

“The Concept of Sacrifice”

“The Fertility Cults”

“The Jewish Background of the New Testament: An Essay in Historical Apocalyptic”

“The Age and Type of Christianity in the Epistle of James”

“Doctrine of Salvation in John, Paul, and James”

“St. Paul and Orphism”

“ The Augustinian Interpretation of History”

“The Life and Thought of Ramon Lull”

“Robert Cowton to Thomas Rondel, Lector at Balliol College, Oxford”

“Relative Importance of the Causes of the Reformation”

“Gains and Losses of the Reformation”

“A Study of the Impact of Cultural Movements upon the Church in England during the Nineteenth Century”

“The Relation of Religion to the Arts”

“The Relation of Religion to the Arts Forms of Music and Drama”

“An Inquiry into the Art Forms of Prose Fiction”

“The Importance of Calvin for Philosophy”

“T.S. Eliot and Other Observations”

“A Reconsideration of Chaucer”

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Frye and Ferenc Juhász

I have recently returned from a successful conference in Budapest honoring Frye in his centenary year.  In a discussion with the Hungarians I mentioned that on several occasions Frye referred to Ferenc Juhász’s The Boy Changed into a Stag Cries out at the Gate of Secrets (1955), a poem much admired by Auden and by Frye as well.  Back home, I’ve tracked down the references:

From Notebook 21 in CW 13: 163

Maybe revolution-rebirth is the telos of Four, in spite of what I’ve said, its 5 reversal being resurrection.  Maybe the universe contained in the mind, the apocalypse of that wonderful Juhasz poem, is reversed by interpenetration.  It’s the same principle of everywhere is here inside out.  Similarly, resurrection is rebirth’s “Behold, I make all things new,” inside out.  The consubstantial risen Christ? (CW 13: 163)

From “The Times of the Signs,” CW 27: 353.  Frye is quoting from The Plough and the Pen, Writings from Hungary 1930-1956, edited by Ilona Duczynska and Karl Polanyi (1963).

At the same time that the Romantic movement had begun the final separation of mythology and science, the Industrial Revolution was making technology a central factor in society.  Both Marxism and the theory of progress in the democracies seized on industrial production as the central uniting force of society, and the realizing power of civilization.  Their conception of technology was much the same: they differed only on whether a capitalist or a socialist economy should control it.  The great advantage of having technology in such a role was that it seemed to develop automatically, with the minimum of reference to the nagging mythological question: is this really what man most wants and needs?  Marxist poets were urged to celebrate the glories of technology under socialism as their ancestors had celebrated gods and heroes.  A magnificent Hungarian poem by Ferenc Juhász, The Boy Changed into a Stag Cries Out at the Gate of Secrets, translated by the Canadian poet Kenneth McRobbie with Ilona Duczynska, thus describes the apotheosis of its transformed hero:

There he stood on the renewing crags of time,

stood on the ringed summit of the sublime

universe, there stood the lad at the gate of secrets,

his antler prongs were playing with the stars . . .

Mother, my mother, I cannot go back:

pure gold seethes in my hundred wounds . . .

each prong of my antlers is a dual-based pylon

each branch of my antlers a high-tension wire,

my eyes are ports for ocean-going merchantmen, my veins are tarry cables, these

teeth are iron bridges, and in my heart the surge of monster-infested seas,

each vertebra is a teeming metropolis, for a spleen I have a smoke-puffing barge

each of my cells is a factory, my atoms are solar systems

sun and moon swing in my testicles, the Milky Way is my bone marrow,

each point of space is one part of my body

my brain impulse is out in the curling galaxies.

[Quoted from The Plough and the Pen, Writings from Hungary 1930-1956, edited by Ilona Duczynska and Karl Polanyi (1963). [NF]]

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Centennial Campaign: ‘Northrop Frye on the Bible and Literature’.

I’m writing to let you know about our Centennial Campaign: ‘Northrop Frye on the Bible and Literature’. This web based series, if successfully financed, recovers, augments, and enhances 24 Frye lectures from Frye’s Religious Knowledge course given in 1981/82, the only video in existence of Frye behind the lectern in a classroom.

Take a moment to check it out on Indiegogo and also share it with your friends. All the tools are there. Get perks, make a contribution, or simply follow updates. If enough of us get behind it, we can make ‘Northrop Frye on the Bible and Literature’ happen.

Full information on the project is available here.

Bob Rodgers

The Budapest Conference

Northrop Frye 100: A Danubian Perspective

 To honor Northrop Frye on the centenary of his birth, this conference was held in Budapest, 7–8 September 2012.  It was sponsored by the Institute of English Studies, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, and the School of English and American Studies, Eötvös Loránd University.  Participants heard papers by some thirty speakers, representing eight countries.  In addition Milorad Krstić gave a video presentation of his extraordinary Das Anatomische Theater.  Below are the English abstracts of the papers and the brief biographies of the participants.  Only the names and titles are given for the papers and abstracts in Hungarian.


 1.  Bácskai-Atkári, Júlia
Frye Reading Byron

In his influential essay Archetypal Criticism, Northrop Frye interprets Byron’s Don Juan as a clear instance of satire, belonging to the “mythos of winter” (Frye 1957).  As he points out, satire in Don Juan is to a large extent achieved by a strong self-parodying tendency and by constant digressions — both leading to the partial marginalization of the hero (Frye 1963). I will show that Frye’s analysis can be extended to the genre of the verse novel as such: first, it captures the chief differences from the mock epic, which is satire fundamentally lacking the two features in question. Second, the parody of other genres — which typically recall Frye’s “mythos of summer” — and self-mocking tone are present on a higher level too: the verse novel is a form which is by definition a literary response. As such, it is also self-responsive: verse novels after Byron tend not only to be self-reflexive as texts but they emphatically reflect on the genre itself, either by distancing themselves from (certain aspects of) previous verse novels, as did many Hungarian examples in the second half of the 19th century, or even by parodying previous ones, as does Térey’s Paulus with Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. With the appearance of contemporary instances of the genre (e.g. Byrne by Burgess), Frye’s analysis is very much of a current issue.

JÚLIA BÁCSKAI-ATKÁRI graduated from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest with an MA (hons) in English Language and Literature and in Hungarian Language and Literature. Currently, she is junior research fellow at the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and a PhD student at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest (PhD programmes in Romanticism and in English Linguistics). Her main research area is the narration of the 19th‑century novel in verse and of the postmodern development of the genre in Hungarian and English literature, with particular interest in Byron’s oeuvre and reception.

 2.  Bánki, Evá

A költészet születése—Samuel I. könyve alapján

[Paper, abstract, and bio in Hungarian]

3.  Dancáková, Mária

Northrop Frye on the Metaphorical Language of the Bible

The paper focuses on Frye’s reading of the Biblical language which he defined, using Bultmann’s term, as kerygma, or proclamation, based on myth and metaphor, and showing affinities with the language of poetry and rhetoric.  However, Frye never seemed to be satisfied with the definition and he struggled to find the exact wording for the biblical language and its literal meaning.  Certain for him was its basis in myth and metaphor, as he believed that only such a language can detach people from the world of facts and logical propositions, and which has the power to transform their lives.  Metaphor, as he explained, is the controlling mode of thought in the Bible and not only an ornament; its use is extended to the identification of a reader with what he reads in the Bible, arising especially from the centripetal relations among its words.  Myth is the cornerstone of the biblical structure, and is not to be perceived as “not really true,” as the form of the biblical stories is more important than their historicity. The intention of the biblical writers was to tell a story, not to provide the readers with the accurate description of the era, or to tell them what they might have missed.

MÁRIA DANCÁKOVÁ (born on August 25, 1989 in Trebišov) currently lives in Presov. She attended the University of Presov in Presov, Faculty of Arts, in the study programme British and American Studies. In 2010 she obtained her bachelor’s degree and is currently in the last year of her master’s degree programme. The topic of her diploma thesis was Northrop Frye on the Metaphorical Language of the Bible. In the winter semester 2011, she spent four months at the University of Bolton, United Kingdom, as an Erasmus student.

4. Dávidházi, Péter

A Tribute to The Great Code: Voltaire’s Lisbon Poem, Mikes and the Book of Job

Being a tribute to Northrop Frye’s work on the Bible, the paper is meant to demonstrate how a present-day scholar may benefit from applying Frye’s insights and methods to a comparative analysis of two literary works with a common, if latent, biblical subtext. Both Voltaire’s “Poëme sur le désastre de Lisbonne ou examen de cet axiome: tout est bien” and Kelemen Mikes’s letter CXCVIII in his Letters from Turkey were prompted by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, both responded to the problems of theodicy, and both alluded to the book of Job.  In constant dialogue with Frye’s ideas, the paper reveals these similarities, but only to highlight (and celebrate) some characteristic differences that are incompatible with the usual classification of Mikes’s work as a typical representative of early Enlightenment literature.

PÉTER DÁVIDHÁZI.  Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is head of the Department of 19th-century Hungarian Literature at the Research Centre for the Humanities, and he is Professor of English Literature at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest.  As a visiting professor he taught at the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Published in Hungary, England and the US, his books include The Romantic Cult of Shakespeare: Literary Reception in Anthropological Perspective (London: Macmillan, 1998).  His latest book is Menj, vándor. Swift sírfelirata és a hagyományrétegzödes [Go, Traveller. Swift’s Epitaph and the Strata of a Tradition] (Pecs: Pro Pannonia, 2009).  His recent work focuses on the uses of biblical allusions in modern English and Hungarian Poetry.

5. Denham, Robert. D.

The “Two Fryes”: The Aristotelian and the Longinian

This paper examines the question of whether or not there are two essential thrusts to Frye’s critical vision that are more or less incommensurate with each other and that therefore are not subject to Frye’s usual tendency of bringing together oppositions, such as Aristotle versus Longinus, by way of their interpenetration or their being subjected to the Hegelian Aufhebung.  The question is approached by way of Frye’s commitment to both Aristotelian and Longinian perspectives. Denham concludes that Frye finally privileges Longinus over Aristotle.

ROBERT D. DENHAM is the Fishwick Professor of English, Emeritus, Roanoke College, Salem, VA.  He was formerly Director of English Programs for the Modern Language Association.  He has written and edited 26 volumes by or about Northrop Frye, including eleven volumes of The Collected Works of Northrop Frye.  His most recent book is The Northrop Frye Handbook.  This past summer he donated his extensive Frye collection to the Public Library in Moncton, New Brunswick, Frye’s hometown. The collection included books, articles, and other printed matter, amounting to 43 feet of shelf space; 38 videotapes and 65 audiotapes, Frye’s writing desk and chair, a bronze bust of Frye, oil paintings, several dozen original drawings and caricatures, 114 translations of Frye’s books into 25 languages, and numerous other Frygiana.

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Nella Cotrupi on the “Secular Scripture”

In honour of the centenary, Nella Cotrupi, author of Northrop Frye and the Poetics of Process, will be giving a series of lectures on Frye and the concept of the “secular scripture.”  I certainly intend to catch as many of the talks as I can. Not to be missed if you are a Frye devotee and live in the area. Here is the blurb from the flyer:

Northrop Frye and the Secular Scripture
With Nella Cotrupi

Tuesdays, October 2, 9, 23 & 30, 2012
7:00- 9:00 pm at Emmanuel College

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Northrop Frye and many special events have been organized to mark this centenary and honour a graduate of Emmanuel College who is widely acknowledged to have been one of Canada’s  brightest intellectual lights. In honour of this occasion, Dr. Nella Cotrupi will deliver a series of four talks with discussion on a concept that is central to Frye’s life work, the “Secular Scripture.” What did Professor Frye comprehend by this expression, and why did he privilege it so prominently in his literary criticism? In order to answer these questions, we will delve into the very core of his spiritual beliefs and ethical commitments.

Nella Cotrupi has taught and published widely on Northrop Frye. Her book-length study, Northrop Frye and the Poetics of Process, was published by University of Toronto Press.

For registration details go here.

Two Frye Alerts

These  two alerts are courtesy of Bob Denham, our roving reporter who always has a sharp eye out for matters Frygian:

You can follow this link to the website of one of Frye’s former students, Margaret Kell Virany, who supplied Bob with so many of the notes for Frye’s courses. We owe her a great debt. The notes are published in our library, under “Class Notes and Exams”. I might take the opportunity here to thank Clayton Chrusch for his help in uploading them into the library.

This link will take you to a lovely piece by Sylva Ficová, freelance translator and editor, translator of Anatomy of Criticism and co-0translator of The Great CodeVelký kód [Bible a literatura].  Trans. Sylva  Ficová  and Alena Přibáňová.  Brno: Host, 2000.

Some Very Rare and Valuable Books

In a letter to his future wife, Helen Kemp, dated 10 August, 1936, Frye gives an account of his journey from the Kemp family cottage on Gordon Bay to Montreal, and from Montreal to Moncton, to visit his parents for a month before leaving to begin his studies at Oxford. The trip to Montreal was “pretty bloody” with an open door behind and “an oxygen-and-cinders addict in front with an open window, so I caught a hay feverish cold which kept me sneezing like a threshing machine for a day or two.” Plus a fretful two-year-old “whose mother was working on a theory that she could stop her from crying by slapping her.” The trip from Montreal to Moncton was more pleasant.

From Bathurst down to Moncton I talked to the trainman, whose name is Cormier, a next-door neighbor of ours who is quite a friend of Dad. He probably has the best library in Moncton, and has been collecting and reading standard works on anthropology, comparative religion and evolutionary theory for twenty years. He undoubtedly knows far more about comparative religion than anyone in Emmanuel College. Very dogmatic and violently anti-clerical, full of Haeckel and Frazer type of materialism and rationalism. Somewhat narrowed by a profound conviction that all theological writers are either fools or deliberate liars, and quite surprised that I had read or even heard of any of the books he had read. The Acadian Frenchman is naturally a liberal free-thinker on good terms with the English, in contrast to the Quebec habitant, who is nationalist and obscurantist. The latter are gaining ascendancy through their superior spawning faculties, and are trying to foment racial quarrels here. Cormier is part of the vanguard of an agnostic tendency which I think will absorb eventually most of the urban population of French Canada. He made me feel ……. that he, a mere trainman, should ……. while I, who had been to University ……. Fill up the blanks with something pious and patronizing.

The month of August was a difficult month for Frye, as the letters back and forth between Frye and Kemp (collected in The Correspondence of Northrop Frye and Helen Kemp, 1932-1939, edited by Robert Denham) testify and as John Ayre’s brief summary (Northrop Frye: A Biography) also suggests. He was concerned about his lack of money, worried about his rapidly aging mother, and unhappy at the prospect of being separated from Helen for such a long time. Sometime just before August 20, in a letter from Helen that has gone missing and is not included in the Correspondence, he learned (but wanted not to believe) that she was pregnant, and in turmoil trying to decide what to do. But in the midst of these very tumultuous few weeks he did take time to visit and be entertained by his next-door neighbour, Cormier. There are two such occasions recorded in the Frye-Kemp Correspondence. In a letter dated August 20 (the same letter in which he asks Helen not to “jump to conclusions quite so quickly this time”) he writes:

I went over to see Cormier the other night. He takes a magazine called the Literary Guide, run by a group of people called Rationalists, a sort of anti-clerical cult. There’s a Rationalist club in Toronto which meets every Sunday. I was very much disappointed in it (he lent, or rather gave, me a few copies) – it’s a snuffling, canting, self-righteous, priggish little magazine, incredibly sectarian and narrow-minded. The magazine itself is one of those publisher’s rackets – its review section designed to advertise their books and knock other publishers’. However, I got a good bibliography from him, as he has some really good things, and some very rare and valuable books.

At the end of a long letter postmarked 29 August he writes:

I think I forgot to mention in my last letter that I saw Cormier again – he took me to see a pig-headed old fool of about 70 who reads his rationalist magazine and much the same books – deaf, and uses his deafness as an excuse for his pig-headedness. Rationalists seem to have only two ideas, that Jesus never lived and that the church has always persecuted. So I got Sun myths and public school history bellowed at me – or rather across me, as I took little part in the conversation – all evening long.

It’s clear that Frye was fascinated and repelled by his neighbour Cormier, with his collection of “very rare and valuable books,” his openness to new ideas, his anti-clericalism, and his narrow-mindedness. In the midst of Helen’s (and his) agony over her unwanted pregnancy, his worries about money, and the excitement of his imminent departure for England, he can’t stop talking about the trainman next door. I don’t know much about this Cormier, other than what Frye gives us in his letters. But I do know that his collection of books survived intact, handed down from generation to generation. In my capacity as a dealer in used and rare books I bought the entire collection from Cormier’s granddaughter, in September, 1994.

He penciled his name very neatly into all his books – Robert J. Cormier, or sometimes just R. J. Cormier. I don’t know if he continued living in the house near Frye’s, and I don’t know when he died. The books came into the possession of his son Wilfred J. Cormier, and when Wilfred died in 1992 his widow, Florence, kept possession. Two years later, in the spring or early summer of 1994, Jean Beers, Florence’s daughter, called me to come and look at the books and to make an offer. My offer seemed low to Jean Beers, but it was all that I could afford, and all that made sense to me, with my known clientele. I suggested she contact a book dealer in Halifax, who might offer more. I thought that was the end of it. I felt sick, because I had seen the books and recognized the treasure I had let slip through my hands.

But several months later Jean Beers called me again and asked if my offer still stood. I don’t know if she ever contacted the dealer in Halifax. I had the feeling she just wanted me to take them away. I made the cheque out to Florence Cormier, whom I don’t think I ever actually met. (Florence Cormier, as I discovered from a recent google search, died July 23, 2002, at age 82.)

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New Book on Frye: Michael Sinding’s Body of Vision

Michael Sinding’s new book on Frye, Body of Vision: Northrop Frye and the Poetics of Mind, is forthcoming in January. Michael is Marie Curie Fellow in the Department of Language and Communication at the Vrije Universteit Amsterdam; this fall he is presenting papers on Frye at conferences in Budapest and Toronto. Here is a blurb from the flyer for the book:
Body of Vision (University of Toronto Press, 2013) reconsiders fundamentals of Northrop Frye’s theories of meaning, literature, and culture in the light of related current approaches that have taken his insights in very different directions. It develops branches of Frye’s thinking by proposing partial syntheses of them with cognitive poetics and with contextualist theories of cultural history and ideology, seeking to retain the best of all worlds. Case studies of texts and genres work out promising connections in detail.Three related aspects of Frye’s work are explored: meaning and thought, culture and society, and literary history. Chapter 1 connects Frye’s theory of meaning and poetic metaphor with those developed in cognitive linguistics and poetics by George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, and Mark Turner. Chapter 2 applies this synthesis to the metaphoric world of Dante’s *Divine Comedy*. Chapter 3 links Frye’s approach to the relations among literature, society, and ideology with that of cultural theorists Roland Barthes and Stuart Hall, and with Lakoff’s cognitive account of metaphor and framing in political thought and discourse. It characterizes the contrasting conservative and liberal worldviews represented in Hobbes’s Leviathan and Rousseau’s Social Contract. Chapter 4 considers relations between general principles of literary cognition and particulars of texts and contexts in history. Frye’s approach is compared with Patrick Colm Hogan’s study ofemotional and literary universals, and with the new historicism of Stephen Greenblatt and Louis Adrian Montrose. The pastoral is examined as a genre that appears decidedly dated in many ways, yet is still capable of communicating powerfully.

Michael and the University of Toronto Press have kindly given us permission to post an excerpt. Here is the first chapter:

 Cognition, Meaning and Culture

“Systems That Won’t Quite Do”: Schematic Structure in Literary Metaphor, Myth, and Models

Michael Sinding

 I do not think of the Anatomy as primarily systematic: I think of it rather as schematic. The reason it is schematic is that poetic thinking is schematic. The structure of images that C. S. Lewis in The Discarded Image calls “the Model” was a projected schematic construct which provided the main organization for literature down to the Renaissance: it modulated into less projected forms after Newton’s time, but it did not lose its central place in literature.

Northrop Frye, “Reflections in a Mirror,” 1966

Our first imaginary conversation proposes to reveal important parallels between Frye’s literary and cultural theory, on the one hand, and cognitive literary studies, on the other, which make it worthwhile to look at these theories in each others’ lights, so to speak. The most important parallels concern the relation of metaphors to one another and to the larger mental models giving structure to culture, literature, philosophy, science, and moral and political worldviews and ideology. Determining their points of agreement and divergence can indicate how they may be developed in concert, as supplementing, extending, and correcting one another’s claims and arguments about common concerns. From this vantage, I see Frye as elaborating some of the broader cultural implications of the conceptual approach to meaning, and the conceptual party as able to support certain versions of Frye’s theses about literature and culture by articulating the linguistic and conceptual details. (Putting them together, as I’ve suggested, we get more of the forest and more of the trees than we could with either one alone.) After a brief overview of some common aims, principles, and background, this chapter turns to detailed discussions of the former, then the latter. The ultimate aim is to describe in detail the possible forms of coherence across metaphors and their imagistic structures. This will prepare the ground for a study of metaphoric coherence in what Frye calls “literary cosmologies”, which are metaphoric storyworlds. To clarify, storyworlds, as David Herman defines them, are “mental models of who did what to and with whom, when, where, why, and in what fashion in the world to which recipients relocate [. . .] as they work to comprehend a narrative” (Story Logic 5). Literary cosmologies are metaphoric storyworlds in that they are structured by compounds of metaphors (i.e. many aspects of the storyworld are metaphorical, and as they interact with one another, the metaphors combine). The next chapter will use this chapter’s analysis to examine the metaphoric coherence of the cosmology of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The chapters following connect the cosmology to social mythology and to literary history.

The approach to figurative language and thought pioneered by George Lakoff, Mark Johnson and Mark Turner caught imaginations across the world, and I think it’s no exaggeration to call it revolutionary. At present it constitutes a flourishing research program that continues to invigorate many fields. It has roots in cognitive linguistics, which is also highly interdisciplinary, and claims a very broad scope, examining metaphor, figures, and narrative in many areas, including literature, philosophy, religion, anthropology, politics, mathematics, and particularly worldview and common sense. As with Frye, there is an impressive interdisciplinarity of sources and influences. Cognitive literary studies encompasses cognitive poetics, narratology, rhetoric, reader response, and more. Indeed, it may draw on any of the fields associated with cognitive science—not only linguistics but cognitive psychology, anthropology, and various divisions of neuroscience.

In fact, reception of the two theories is also comparable and can lead us into some of their common aims and assumptions. Early views of Frye tend toward hagiography or hatchet job, and the gamut remains narrow and polarized. In short, while many find Frye’s ingenious analyses, analogies, synopses and pattern perception highly informative, others find them over-ingenious and over-idealized. Discounting genial praise, general abuse, and frequent misunderstanding, Hamilton sees in serious critiques of Frye chiefly a distrust of his systematicity, a concern that abstraction away from contextualized particulars can be flattening of textual complexity and literary experience, and rejection of his totalizing ambitions (Anatomy 4-6). Dolzani notes the standard complaint of reductivism, and says that during the fifties and sixties Frye was attacked for being unscientific—not proving his patterns empirically there—and during the seventies and eighties for misinterpreting empirical findings—we easily find patterns because we are conditioned to do so. In the nineties sociological critique asks who decides on and interprets universals, and on what authority? (“Wrestling” 98). Cognitive critics are also oriented towards form and structure, general principles, and universals, and Lakoff and Turner and others have also been accused, in similar terms, of overstating their claims and simplifying their topics: reducing specifics to abstractions, flattening meaning and emotion, downplaying cultural and historical context, insufficiently distinguishing literal from figurative.

Without going into great detail, we can fashion one response for both: reductionism need not follow. Neither theory purports to explain everything about particular texts. Both address a clear need for larger perspectives by creating frameworks capable of bringing together arrays of related phenomena. Fine-grained facts may be the most immediately evident to the senses, especially with art, which trains and rewards heightened sensitivity to nuance. But they are not the only facts, and they do not vitiate the need to address those of larger, coarser grain. Indeed, if Frye and the conceptual party are right about the importance of conceptual systematicity (or schematicity) in the creation of resonance for myth and metaphor, then their theories offer an explanation for some of the most powerful, and most specifically artistic effects of literature—an explanation of a kind that is unavailable to the scrutineer of surfaces. As Frye puts it, “Many who consider the structure of my view of literature repellent find useful parenthetic insights in me, but the insights would not be there unless the structure were there too” (“Reflections” 145).

The business I envision for this chapter, then, is using Frye’s literary theory to conjoin two kinds of “cognitive criticism” deliberately oriented to explanations that make essential but not greedily reductive use of cognitive research. On the one hand there is the kind represented by Mark Turner (Reading), David Bordwell (“Case”, “Contemporary”) and Noël Carroll (“Prospects”), who demur from both isolated textual “readings” and sweeping self-ratifying annexations of texts and theories by “grand theory”, to focus on “middle-level” topics and problems specific to the arts. These critics aim to describe the commonplace background knowledge of readers and viewers, and explain how it underpins readers’ experience and interpretation of texts and films. On the other hand, there is the kind represented by Reuven Tsur, who distinguishes cognitive poetics from cognitive linguistics by the former’s focus on explaining specifically poetic “effects” (“Aspects” 279-81). Yeshayahu Shen (“Cognitive Constraints”, “Metaphor”) makes a related distinction between approaches to the nature of poetic (especially figurative) structures. Against the various approaches that highlight the creativity and novelty of poetic discourse, his approach highlights the need of such discourse to conform to cognitive constraints, in order to be communicable. Poetic discourse must both conform to, and interfere with, cognitive processes (cf. Semino and Steen). Indeed, for Ray Gibbs Jr. the “paradox of metaphor” everywhere, not just in literature, is that it is “creative, novel, culturally sensitive, and allows us to transcend the mundane while also being rooted in pervasive patterns of bodily experience common to all people” (“Metaphor” 5). As I hope to show, Frye’s approach examines the special structures and processes specific to literature, but he does so by comparing and contrasting that literary cognition with non-literary cognition.

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