Frye, St. Thomas and Basketball

The first Toronto Raptor home game yesterday to start the  new NBA season ( and no NHL games in sight) reminded me of Northrop Frye’s thoughts on the game:

At Princeton I bought four books to keep me up to date with the mid-50s. Maritain’s, Malraux’s Voices of Silence, Auerbach’s Mimesis, and Curtius on medieval literature and Latin. At that time Curtius was the only one I could read with any real profit: Mimesis was all very well but I was working out an anti-mimetic theory of literature; Malraux said a few excellent things but was full of bullshit; Maritain, as I said, kept busting his skull against this preposterous “Art and Scholasticism” thesis, insisting that critical theory just had to come out of St. Thomas, who cared as much about the arts as I do about basketball league playoffs.

           (CW: Late Notebooks 1982-1990)

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2 thoughts on “Frye, St. Thomas and Basketball

  1. Bob Denham

    More on Basketball

    Some universities have a system of “credits” where you wander around from Chinese to basketball coaching like a shopper in a department store, and wind up knowing nothing at all about a lot of things. (“Greetings from the Principal,” CW 7: 860)

    The milieu of William Faulkner and Wallace Stevens cannot be confined to impressive generalizations about the decay of the old South after the Civil War, or about the decline in New England self-reliance caused by the rise of the Hartford Insurance Company. It includes—I speak only of the verbal milieu—the Reader’s Digest with its articles on how to love your leukemia or religion is later than you think; it includes the Gertrude Stein–style readers studied in grade 1; it includes advertisements of softerized toilet tissues and of the only dentifrice that contains cyanide; it includes teachers’-college theses on the placing of shots in basketball and the correlation of bad temper with loss of sleep. (“Comment” [on Walter Ong’s “The Synchronic Present”], CW 29: 171–2)

    So you are joining C.C.F. in the fall. I should have thought Canadian politics even more of a cul de sac than basketball, but of course you know best. (Frye’s letter to Helen Kemp on his 21st birthday, CW 1: 140)


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