Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays
Striking out at the conception of criticism as restricted to mere opinion or ritual gesture, Northrop Frye wrote this magisterial work proceeding on the assumption that criticism is a structure of thought and knowledge in its own right. Employing examples of world literature from ancient times to the present, he provides a conceptual framework for the examination of litera...more
Luckless undergraduate standing in front of Northrop Frye’s An Anatomy of Criticism…
I vividly remember my reaction, when as an undergraduate, I read Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism as a required text in a course I was taking. The book begins innocently enough; in his “Polemical Introduction,” Frye discusses the critic’s role and the current gaps in literary theory (which, of course, he intends to fill). With the first essay, though, however, Frye begins to launch his system.
I recall feelin...more
Sets out its task in terms reminiscent of Kant's assertion that "philosophy stands in need of a science" in the Critique of Pure Reason: "If criticism exists, it must be an examination of literature in terms of a conceptual framework derivable from an inductive survey of the literary field. The word 'inductive' suggests some sort of scientific procedure. What if criticism is a science as well as an art?" (7). Both Kant and Frye strike me as latter day Miltons, who...more
"The disadvantage of making the queen-figure the hero's mistress, in anything more than a political sense, is that she spoils his fun with the distressed damsels he meets on his journey, who are often enticingly tied naked to rocks or trees, like Andromeda or Ange...more
t'would appear that frye believed that there is (1950s...late 50s?) an absence of a systematic approach to criticism.....in need of a coordinating principle, central hypothesis....
...realize the existence of other philosophies, too....the critic must remain classless to remain obj...more
Northrup Frye argues that literary criticism is a way of thinking, defining it thus: "… by criticism I mean the whole work of scholarship and taste concerned with literature which is a part of what is called variously liberal education, culture, or the study of the humanities. I start from the principle that criticism is not simply a part of this larger activity, but an essential part of it" (3). Literature is not taught, criticism is taught. He places criticism, and the humanities on the same l...more
My name is Ozymandias, king of kings
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains – round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone an...more
I should love this book! I don't. I think it's overly general and kind of obvious. . . The most interesting thing about it is that life itself, the great story, is a journey through all the seasons. The second most interesting thing is that the season of winter is the season of irony.
I do use that notion for 12th Night...but...I should love this book, and I do not! And I like theory!!
I remember it being very influential on me. A lot of my poems comes directly from it. Especially "Garden Poems" and "City Poems." And somewhere in Frye, I found the idea of treating Hip Hop and Pop music no differently than other literary works.
I think I will have to read it again at some point. Maybe I'll get more insights. Or, at least, not misrepresent what Frye had said.
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