Demonic Modulation January 26, 2010

The Educated Imagination was the first book by Frye I read, and it’s therefore always a touchstone for me.  You never forget your first love. Meanwhile, Fearful Symmetry remains Frye’s most mind-blowing text, The Great Code his most challenging, and Words With Power his most expansive for practical critical purposes.  But like many Frygians, I’mView Full Page…

Virginity in Book I of “The Faerie Queene” January 12, 2010

John Singleton Copely, The Red Cross Knight, 1793 With this post, Trevor Losh-Johnson joins us as a byline correspondent. My orientation to romance is by way of The Faerie Queene, where many of the motifs of romance occur in a more condensed form.  And, since Spenser crops up again and again in Frye, it mightView Full Page…

The Doubled Heroine Device, or Betty and Veronica January 10, 2010

In response to the “virginity” thread started by Jonathan Allan’s post, I think it wrong to suggest that Frye himself has gendered virginity: he is simply describing what he finds in literature, and he is obviously well aware of the value put on virginity as a commodity in a patriarchal culture, as his allusion toView Full Page…

Male Virgins January 7, 2010

Reubens, Venus and Adonis, c. 1635 Responding to Jonathan Allan. “Virginity means a transcending of sex”––“Third Book” Notebooks I suspect that Frye associates females with virginity because that is the typical association he found in the tradition of literature, sacred and secular. But he clearly recognized the category of the male virgin. In Words withView Full Page…

Jonathan Allan: Northrop Frye’s Virginity

  Millais’s Ophelia, 1852 Jonathan Allan, a doctoral candidate in English at University of Toronto, will be joining us as a byline correspondent As I complete the closing chapters of my dissertation and begin an extensive revision, I realize that I have an ongoing debate with Frye in my own notebooks: a debate that unfortunately doesView Full Page…

A Summary of Frye’s The Secular Scripture November 28, 2009

A Summary of The Secular Scripture: the following is a revised and expanded version of the summary published in the introduction to The Secular Scripture and Other Writings on Critical Theory, 1976-991. Volume 18 of Collected Works of Northrop Frye. Edited by Joseph Adamson and Jean Wilson. University of Toronto Press © 2005. The SecularView Full Page…

Leviathan and Dostoevsky’s Crocodile November 8, 2009

As a way perhaps of tying together two of the recent threads on the blog, I thought I might offer up this little piece as an intriguing example of Leviathan symbolism. It is a summary of Dostoevsky’s unfinished grotesque allegorical satire, “The Crocodile,” from Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865-1871, vol. 4 of Joseph Frank’s monumentalView Full Page…

More on Robert Alter and Frye

Responding to Bob’s post on the Leviathan symbolism in the Bible: Yes, and Alter, in the same essay, says that Leviathan is confined to the “cage” of Job, Isaiah, and the Psalms, as if these were minor books of the Bible and the imagery was in some kind of quarantine from the rest of theView Full Page…

Phases of Symbolism October 28, 2009

Further to the ongoing discussion on archetype, here is a chart I put together about 40 years ago:

Archetype and Spengler

Jonathan Allan, in response to Clayton Chrusch’s “Five Questions about Archetype”: It is interesting here to note that Spengler also makes use of “archetype” in Decline of the West, a book which Frye certainly read as is evidenced by his comment that Spengler’s book was “perhaps the most important book yet produced by the twentiethView Full Page…