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The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance
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The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  72 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
Northrop Frye's thinking has had a pervasive impact on contemporary interpretations of our literary and cultural heritage. In his Anatomy of Criticism, a landmark in the history of modern critical theory, he demonstrated his genius for mapping out the realm of imaginative creation. In The Secular Scripture he turns again to the task of establishing a broad theoretical fram ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published January 1st 1978 by Harvard University Press (first published January 1st 1973)
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Adam Ross
Dec 22, 2009 Adam Ross rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-study
As with all of Frye's work, it is a mixture between wonderful and horrible. Often he makes great observations coming from a perspective that is completely backwards to reality. He says much about the Bible as literature, but assumes that it is only literature instead of history, and has an annoying tendency to refer to apocryphal stories as though they were as authortitative as Scripture itself (coming, no doubt, from his assumption that both are on equal footing literarily). So some worldview d ...more
Feb 14, 2010 Umar rated it really liked it
An excellent read. Something addictive about literary analysis. There are countless parallels made to Biblical scripture and Frye analyzes many different works in his piece.

Some big themes emerge in his discussion, he dwells on them briefly and then departs. Some of these themes are surprising, and mentioned eloquently but in a cryptically passive way.

I like this book because it's imaginative and hope to finish some of his other books.
Nov 02, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-crit
The Secular Scripture offers a free-wheeling discussion of the different forms Romantic narratives take and why the forms (epic verse, chanson, play, opera, novel) matter to the meanings of the works and to the concept of Romance itself. His wide-ranging exploration includes Classical Greek and Roman drama, William Golding, Benjamin Franklin, the stories of O. Henry, and The Magic Flute. Frye’s digression into the differences between the erotic and the pornographic is entertaining.
Susan Holtz
Sep 05, 2014 Susan Holtz rated it it was amazing
I've re-read this recently. A brilliant and insightful exploration of the history of popular story-telling: the sublime; the smutty; the recurring themes; the magical/ coincidental recognitions and resolutions and so on. Think of The Tempest or The Menaechmi, but written by Chaucer or the Brothers Grimm on a good day.
Conrad Leibel
Jun 13, 2015 Conrad Leibel rated it it was amazing
Wise, insightful work which analyzes the social and cultural functions of the romance form. Philosophical and meditative, I would recommend Frye's book to anyone with an interest in narratives, literary theory, and a desire for earnest self reflection.
Chris Schaeffer
May 04, 2012 Chris Schaeffer rated it really liked it
All I'd like to say is that some of the Greek romances Frye mentions are quiet difficult to find! Get on that, publishing world. I know Penguin put out a thing of Greek novels a year or so ago-- but why do things in half measure? Come on.
William Baker
Jun 15, 2016 William Baker rated it it was amazing
Great thought, often uplifting, occasionally complex but worth the sweat! Recommended for all who want to know what the process of reading does to them without a recourse to psychology, except in a few passages where some Jungian influence is detectable.
J. Guapster
May 10, 2013 J. Guapster rated it it was amazing
Frye is classic. I especially liked Chapter 4: Themes of Descent and Chapter 5: Themes of Ascent.
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Born in Quebec but raised in New Brunswick, Frye studied at the University of Toronto and Victoria University. He was ordained to the ministry of the United Church of Canada and studied at Oxford before returning to UofT.

His first book, Fearful Symmetry, was published in 1947 to international acclaim. Until then, the prophetic poetry of William Blake had long been poorly understood, considered by
More about Northrop Frye...

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