Politics Northrop Frye Anatomy Of Criticism Pdf


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The publication of Northrop Frye's Notebooks troubled some of his old admirers A decade later, when Anatomy of Criticism was published, I became one of its. This volume, the twenty-second in the acclaimed Collected Works of Northrop Frye series, presents Frye's most influential work,Anatomy of Criticism(). Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays (Princeton University Press, ) is a book by Canadian literary critic and theorist, Northrop Frye, which .. Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.

Northrop Frye Anatomy Of Criticism Pdf

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these works, Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays is an attempt to .. What I have said about Anatomy of Criticism will be misunderstood if it is. This basic assumption underlies Northrop Frye's prodigious output of essays and books; this early essay is Anatomy of Criticism (). Like Aristotle, Frye is a. Northrop Frye‟s archetypal myth theory from Anatomy of Criticism. The results show that each age relates to a season and moves due to the player‟s influence .

Frye then identifies the mythical mode with the apocalyptic, the ironic with the demonic, and the romantic and low mimetic with their respective analogies.

The high mimetic , then, occupies the center of all four. This ordering allows Frye to place the modes in a circular structure and point to the cyclical nature of myth and archetypes. In this setting, literature represents the natural cycle of birth, growth, maturity, decline, death, resurrection , rebirth, and the repetition of the cycle. The remainder of the chapter deals with the cycle of the four seasons as embodied by four mythoi: comedy , romance , tragedy , and irony or satire.

In the fourth essay, he explores the last three elements: melos - the element dealing with the tonal, musical aspect of literature lexis - the written word, lying somewhere between musical and visual aspects. It may be referred to as diction ear or imagery eye depending on the critical focus.

Frye identifies the connection as such: "The world of social action and event. The world of individual thought and idea has a correspondingly close connection with the eye. Rhetoric means two things: ornamental opsis speech and persuasive melos speech. Rhetorical criticism, then, is the exploration of literature in the light of melos, opsis, and their interplay as manifested in lexis. The radical of presentation—the relation or idealized relation between author and audience—is a further consideration.

Difference in genre relies not on topical considerations science fiction, romance, mystery , nor in length e.

University of Toronto Quarterly

As such, Frye proposes a total of four distinct genres: epos - Author speaks directly to audience e. These four genres form the organizing principle of the essay, first examining the distinctive kind of rhythm of each, then looking at specific forms of each more closely. As Frye describes each genre, he explains the function of melos and opsis in each.

To understand Frye's melos, it is important to note[ according to whom? He contends that the common usage of the term is inaccurate for purposes of criticism, drawn from analogy with harmony, a stable relationship. Music, however, does not consist of a plastic, static, continuously stable relationship, but rather a series of dissonances resolving at the end into a stable relationship.


Poetry containing little dissonance, then, has more in common with the plastic arts than with music. Frye was too modest personally to issue such a statement, but his notebooks make it clear that there was more to him than the public persona.

There was also, in a word, genius. The statement was bound to be provocative.

The general public dis- trusts genius. Indeed,as Oscar Wildepointedout,"Itforgives everything except genius" "Wilde 3. And critics, like artists, hate to have their own genius overlooked. In his introduction to a posthumous reissue of Frye's Anatomy of Criticism, Harold Bloom called the statement "unfortu- nate" and asked whether Kenneth Burke and Wilson Knight, among others, did not have similar claims to genius Bloom, "Introduction" viii.

Anticipating such grumbles, one press reviewer wanted to have the statement cut from the published notebooks, Denham has told me, fear- ing that it would damage Frye's "modest, avuncular" image. Denham does not elaborate on the literal meaning of genius, though he suggests it has something to do with the spiritual world that so inter- ested Frye.

I want to explore Frye's understanding of genius and his uses of the word—both in the late notebooks and in the "Polemical Introduction" to the Anatomy, where it has bearing on such key terms as "tradition," "canon," and "value judgment. Finally, I shall return to the "statement" 37 the genius of northrop frye and explain why it should not be read as a press release but may provide a key to Frye's enduring value as a critic.

Genius is a tricky word.

Anatomy of criticism; four essays

The Oxford English Dictionary recognizes seven distinct definitions or "senses," and Frye uses all of them in the late notebooks alone, where the word appears more than two dozen times. For present purposes, there are two main distinctions to be drawn. Hie first is between two varieties of personal genius, which may be called Classical and Romantic.

The second, which we shall come to later, is between personal and imperson- al genius. The word genius came into the language in Chaucer's time with the same meaning that it had in Classical Latin. It referred originally to the tutelary spirit that guides the individual throughout life and into the afterlife. Over time, it became generalized to include any kind of spirit and also to refer to non-spiritual characteristics, as in a person's genius for satire or politics.

Beginning in Milton's time and culminating in the Romantic period, this later sense of genius as attribution took on the further quality of innate intellectual power, often contrasted with mere talent. While all people have the Classical sort of genius, whether they know it or not, only a select few can have the Romantic sort. Such a per- son is said not only to have genius but to be a genius. Frye's "statement" clearly invokes the Romantic variety of genius.

Where others had formal training and linguistic skills, it seems to say, he had a special kind of intellect. Jean O'Grady has quoted the remark as an example of self-assessment on Frye's part, a reflection "on his own strengths and weaknesses" O'Grady As such it combines his char- acteristic modesty with a self-assurance usually left to implication.

In the essay, Frye professed to nothing more than his Canadian identity; however, he demonstrated the genius he admired without ever naming it. This was typical. In a private letter to his fiancee he could joke about his genius or praise hers nfhk 53, , but writing for publication he would call the quest for genius and personal greatness a "Romantic provincialism" ac If the "statement" had ended by saying, "I had my intellectual home in Toronto" or "a special attachment to Blake and Romanticism," it would have been entirely unexceptionable.

It would not have been so revealing, though, let alone so interesting.

A notebook from the early s—a few years later by Denham's reckoning—shows that genius was indeed part of Frye s self-assess- ment: "By the standards of conventional scholarship, The Great Code was a silly and sloppy book," he wrote. The point is that genius is not enough" ln In other words, genius needs to be complemented by the qualities that Frye said others possessed to a greater degree: intelligence, training, scholarly accuracy, professional competence.

We may well ask, what is the proper relation of genius to scholarship? When genius is not enough, it becomes disconnected from the "ro- mantic ideology of genius" that Bloom detected in the statement—and for which he admitted a certain "sympathy. Bloom sensed this when he went on to raise "an impish archaism: was the Magus of the North attended by a spirit?

He reflected on the dai- mon of Socrates, which the Loeb edition of the Phaedo has translated as "genius" Plato ; 10 8b , and remarked "I must never forget that I'm a literary critic. Several great authors in antiquity wrote essays on the daimon of Socrates, Each one emphasized the educative function.

Plutarch wrote that the daimon brings mental images of higher ideas ; s88e ; Plotinus, that it connects us to the cosmos and generates "the energy of our own personal career" ; 3.

We might note that the two charges brought against Socrates at his trial—corrupting youth and introducing new gods— were closely connected. These gods were called daimonia, and the youth were corrupted by being advised to rely on their inner resources rather than external authority Plato 90; Apology 24c.

Convinced that the teacher s job is not to inform students but to remind them, he suggested that "the best strategy in do- ing this is first of all to get the student to recognize what he already pot- entially knows, which includes breaking up the powers of repression in his mind that keep him from knowing what he knows" xiv.

Anyone who has taught a course in the Bible and literature has no doubt seen these "powers of repression" in full swing, but they can surface just as easily in a literature survey. Frye did not discuss genius in The Great Code, beyond saying that he never found it "a very useful word" xvi.

However, he wrote much about spirit and the spiritual world, to which the Bible connects readers through myth and metaphor. He wrote even more about vision. He had learned the word from Blake and Yeats 40 thomas willard and, of course, from the Bible itself. It was one of the strongest terms in his critical vocabulary; indeed, he has been called a visionary critic Hamilton.

It was also basic to his conception of literary education, in which the literary work provided a vision of the world as it could be and the teacher of literature helped students to a vision of the imagina- tive universe Willard, "Visionary".

The teacher who can accomplish this is no doubt a genius in the Romantic sense, at least to his or her stu- dents, but also serves the function of a genius in the Classical sense. Such a teacher serves as a guide to the imaginative world, which, for Frye, is very close indeed to the spiritual world. But at this point another kind of genius enters the picture. In addition to the two sorts of personal genius, the Classical and Romantic, there is also an impersonal genius.

In the Anatomy, Frye wrote about the lyrical or satirical genius, not only in writers like Shelley or Swift but in literature itself , He later developed a whole ser- ies of presiding gods or spirits in the "Third Book" Notebooks and Late Notebooks, culminating in the "variations" that form the second half of Words With Power.

He noted that Nietzsche and Jung would each serve as the "presiding genius" of an imaginative space, die genius loci or spirit of the place, much as Edward King in Lycidas became "a pagan genius," Milton's "Genius of the shore.

In the history of English, it occupies a transitional position between what we have been calling the Classical and Romantic genius. In this middle position, or tertium quid, there may be an explanation of how 41 the genius of northrop frye Frye could at once "have genius" and "have a genius," how he could guide others in his criticism and be guided himself.

When Bloom suggested that Frye had a genius in the word's original sense of tutelary spirit, he opened an old sore. Twenty-five years earlier, Bloom had distanced himself from his early model and mentor in a high- ly tendentious essay on "The Dialectics of Poetic Tradition," written for a theoretical journal and included in the aptly tided Map ofMisreading. He began with a backhanded compliment: Frye could be considered "the Proclus or Iamblichus of our day" Bloom, Map This was a compliment inasmuch as Proclus is largely responsible for introducing the concept of symbolism into philosophy, notably in his commentar- ies on the Timaeus and other dialogues of Plato, and Iamblichus was another key transmitter of Platonic tradition.

But it rankled with Frye, who remarked testily that they were pagans, initiates of mystery reli- gions, and rather nebulous writers Frye, "Expanding" Introducing the reissued Anatomy, Bloom changed the comparison "belatedly" to Plotinus Bloom, "Introduction" x , a visionary essayist of great power, though one whom Frye compared unfavourably to Blake jfs 8.

Frye's connection to the Gnostic authors admired by Bloom, like his connec- tion to the avowedly Gnostic C. Jung, deserves to be reassessed. Immediately after the backhanded compliment, Bloom likened Frye's understanding of literary tradition to Eliot's, calling it a "Low Church version of T. The student is a cultural assimilator who thinks because he 42 thomas willard hasjoined a larger body of thought.

Freedom, for Frye, like Eliot, is the change, however, slight, that any genuine single consciousness brings about in the order of literature simply by joining the simul- taneity of such order.

Anatomy of Criticism Summary

He recognized that the Anatomy is a teaching book in that it guides the student into the ideal order. However, he questioned the very possibil- ity of simultaneity in tradition and suggested that it was a "noble ideal- ization," much needed in the radical sixties but a "lie against time" that could not survive. In truth, the difference between simultaneity and movement within literary traditions is much like that between continu- ity and discontinuity or structure and deconstruction: a matter of em- phasis, a saying that the proverbial glass is half full or half empty.

For Bloom, literary education means introducing students to "the presence of the past," but this presence is not concordant so much as discordant, not a vision so much as a revision, brought about by the struggle of each new reader or writer with all precursors.

The struggle includes that of teacher and student. Noting that the original conception of litteratura, in Quintilian's Institutes, included both reading and writing, Bloom suggested that the parallel between Eliot's talented writer and Frye's "A" student is more than superficial: No teacher, however impartial he or she attempts to be, can avoid choosing among students, or being chosen by them, for this is the very nature of teaching. Literary teaching is precisely like litera- ture itself; no strong writer can choose his precursors until first he is chosen by them, and no strong student can fail to be chosen by 43 thomas willard and coherence of the 'body' However, Frye uses canonical measures to place works within "literature as a whole" rather than decide which ones to include or exclude.

For example, he uses "canons of probability" to determine whether a novel belongs to his low mimetic mode or his high mimetic ac 34, 65, His canons are rules for identifying, not the best works of literature, but the best or most salient features of literature as a whole. Here again, the Romantic genius proved itself a useful ally, for it was said to transcend taste as well as talent. Frye recognizes that artistic genius can take a conservative bent, like Bach's, or a revolutionary one, like Beethoven's: it can concentrate on working within the rules of the art or on smashing through them re With his commitment to Blake's "left-wing" vision, Frye would probably have considered himself the more revolutionary theorist of art, and Kant the more conservative, but their views of genius seem compatible.

With them we come back to the third sense of genius as an impersonal characteristic. Shortly after responding to Frye's "statement," Bloom had occa- sion to formulate his own definition of genius. He used a Romantic essayist as his guide, but an essayist who identified the true genius of the individual human being in relation to something beyond the material, that is, to the spiritual world.

Genius, then, is a key word for Frye and a remarkably fluid one. In its Classical form, it refers to a power potentially present in all. In its Romantic form, it refers to a power actually realized in a few.


Meanwhile, it also refers to something outside any one person in a language or cul- ture. It enables critics to identify the canons associated with a tradition and thus obviates the need of value judgments such as Frye dismisses.Robin Waterfield. Toronto: Uni- versity of Toronto Press. Anatomy of Criticism. The lyrical rhythm is very clearly seen in Joyce's Finnegans Wake , a work based almost entirely on associative babbles and dream utterance. The high mimetic , then, occupies the center of all four.

Frye describes this rhythm as associative rather than logical and is the stuff of dreams and the subconscious. Frye describes this rhythm as associative rather than logical and is the stuff of dreams and the subconscious. Curtius, Ernst Robert.