Friday, August 19, 2011

Fearful Symmetry Again

It was Northrup Frye who began to make William Blake's poetry popular and available to serious students. He was studying for the ministry at the University of Toronto, but went to Oxford for graduate work and published Fearful Symmetry, which made him famous. Although he maintained an ecclesiastic relationship, he became the epoch's foremost critic of English literature.

In a recent post Ellie cited a Quote from Fearful Symmetry:

"the business of the visionary [is] to proclaim the Word of God to a
society under the domination of Satan; and ... the visionary's
social position is typically that of an isolated voice crying in
the wilderness against the injustice and hypocrisy of the society
from which he sprung." (Page 336)

Out of his study of Blake's system, Frye generated a system of his own, delineated in the 1957 volume,

Anatomy of Criticism, to provide "a more intelligible account of...'myths we live by'."

Frye's last and greatest (two volume) work and work goes into systems and sources exhaustively; it's very enlightening for anyone serious about learning Blake's system.

Steven Marx, a professor at Cal Poly has written a thorough study of Northup Frye, starting with a thumbnail biography, and continuing with "the sources of Blake's Vision" It's embodied in a description of Frye's extensive writing:

"A lineage of mythographers including Vico, James Frazer, Carl Jung,
and Joseph Campbell all share the view that literature evolves from mythology
and that both embody a society's central values and beliefs--about the gods
and about secular matters like work, play, action, identity, family, love and

(From the 'thorough study' cited above)

The 'thorough study' essentially described and interpreted Words with Power.

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