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Anatomy of Criticism – Four Essays af…

Anatomy of Criticism – Four Essays (original 1957; udgave 2001)

af Northrop Frye (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
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The description for this book, Anatomy of Criticism, will be forthcoming.
Titel:Anatomy of Criticism – Four Essays
Forfattere:Northrop Frye (Forfatter)
Info:Princeton University Press (2001), 400 pages
Samlinger:Unread Non-Fiction/Theory

Work Information

Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays af Northrop Frye (Author) (1957)


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"For some of those writers she seemed to prefer look on much of what is called criticism as a hollow show of gestures and illconsidered utterances maintained partly to fulfil the petty expectations of those preoccupied with what can be safely predicted, but chiefly to provide scope for the perceptive to foresee what they know can never come about."

first essay: classification/systematization can be made use of when understood as a negative constraint against the worse kind of writing (that which is "anything and everything")

third essay: demonic archetype of a million lifeless undergraduate essays

fourth essay: an understanding of The Consolation of Philosophy as a Menippean Satire (aka 'Anatomy') does not open the text, though it allows one to heap further praise upon Joyce. Ulysses understood as possessing, "all four types: novel, romance, confession, anatomy." (money success fame glamour). Finnegan's Wake as all of the above plus the 'Encyclopedic': biblical /scriptural component and therefore even better.

Understanding of criticism as an automated process:
"Some such activity as this of reforging the broken links between creation and knowledge, art and science, myth and concept, is what I envisage for criticism. [...] I mean only that if critics go on with their own business, this will appear to be, with increasing obviousness, the social and practical result of their labors."

Erudition has its rewards:
"We can understand [Rousseau] well enough without extracting the myth, [but] there is much to be gained by extracting the myth if the myth is in fact, as we are suggesting here, the source of the coherence of his argument."

And then sometimes we are surprised by an aside:
"Kierkegaard has written a fascinating little book called Repetition, in which he proposes to use this term to replace the more traditional Platonic term anamnesis or recollection. By it he apparently means, not the simple repeating of an experience, but the recreating of it which redeems or awakens it to life, the end of the process, he says, being the apocalyptic promise: 'Behold, I make all things new.'"

apocalyptic - elegiac ( )
  Joe.Olipo | Jun 4, 2023 |
Sure, I guess, it's an oversimplified model ...? But read it, because it might give you insights ... plus it hearkens back to a time when criticism was written to be consumed and understood by mortals & meaning wasn't willfully obscured because ... well, because the author *could*. ( )
  tungsten_peerts | Mar 9, 2023 |
"Evil may yet be good to have been and yet remain evil." That's how I feel about having read this book.

If you hover over the stars of Goodread's rating system, each rating is described in terms of how much one "likes" a given book. These descriptions are inadequate. I chose 3 stars for this book not because I liked it – in truth, much of it I despised while reading it, insofar as it evoked any emotion from me – but because I did find some useful portions within the somewhat absurdly complex system ... ahem, "anatomy" ... that Frye creates.

As has been my wont with works upon which I don't feel wholly equipped to offer meaningful commentary, I will simply provide below some enjoyable, or at least useful, quotes from the book itself.

p. 33: In literary fictions the plot consists of somebody doing something. The somebody, if an individual, is the hero, and the something he does or fails to do is what he can do, or could have done, on the level of the postulates made about him by the author and the consequent expectations of the audience. Fictions, therefore, may be classified, not morally, but by the hero's power of action, which may be greater than ours, less, or roughly the same.

p. 74: Literary meaning may best be described, perhaps, as hypothetical, and a hypothetical or assumed relation to the external world is part of what is usually meant by the word "imaginative."

p. 82: Aristotle speaks of mimesis praxeos, an imitation of action, and it appears that he identifies this mimesis praxeos with mythos.... Human action (praxis) is primarily imitated by histories, or verbal structures that describes specific and particular actions. A mythos is a secondary imitation of an action, which means, not that it is at two removes from reality, but that it describes typical actions, being more philosophical than history. Human thought (theoria) is primarily imitated by discursive writing, which makes specific and particular predictions. A dianoia is a secondary imitation of thought, a mimesis logos, concerned with typical thought, with the images, metaphors, diagrams, and verbal ambiguities out of which specific ideas develop.

p. 243: The present book employs a diagrammatic framework that has been used in poetics ever since Plato's time. This is the division of "the good" into three main areas, of which the world of art, beauty, feeling, and taste is the central one, and is flanked by two other worlds. One is the world of social action and events, the other the world of individual thought and ideas. Reading from left to right, this threefold structure divides human faculties into will, feeling, and reason. It divides the mental constructs which these faculties produce into history, art, and science and philosophy. It divides the ideals which form compulsions or obligations on these faculties into law, beauty, and truth. Poe gives his version of the diagram (right to left) as Pure Intellect, Taste, and the Moral Sense.... Similarly, we have portrayed the poetic symbol as intermediate between event and idea, example and precept, ritual and dream, and have finally displayed it as Aristotle's ethos, human nature and the human situation, between and made up of mythos and dianoia, which are verbal imitations of action and thought respectively.

p. 347: The ethical purpose of a liberal education is to liberate, which can only mean to make one capable of conceiving society as free, classless, and urbane. No such society exists, which is one reason why a liberal education must be deeply concerned with works of imagination. The imaginative element in works of art, again, lifts them clear of the bondage of history. ( )
  octoberdad | Dec 16, 2020 |
Classic. ( )
  scottcholstad | Jan 12, 2020 |
I suppose this is one of the canonical works in the genre of "lit crit": in the sense that any aspiring critique professionnelle would feel compelled to have grappled with it at one point or another in his/her ascent of Parnassus. It claims to eschew "practical criticism" and pretty much succeeds in that, except that Frye flags a little in Section 4 when he talks about genres and deigns to make some pertinent comments about specific works. The entire thing seems to be an effort to construct scaffolding that would enable the practitioner to situate any given work within a four-dimensional schema of modes, symbols,, myths and genres. All this to aspire to a "scientific" approach to the study of literature; and I suppose it is scientific in the sense of being taxonomic. Be sure to bookmark the glossary at the back of the book, because you will have frequent recourse to reminding yourself of the significance of such terms as epos, opsis, melos, anagogic, and a bunch more. ( )
  jburlinson | Jun 9, 2017 |
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Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Frye, NorthropForfatterprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Rosa-Clot, PaolaOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Stratta, SandroOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Polemical Introduction
This book consists of "essays," in the word's original sense of a trial or incomplete attempt, on the possibility of a synoptic view of the scope theory, principles, and techniques of literary criticism.
First Essay
In the second paragraph of the Poetics Aristotle speaks of the differences in works of fiction which are caused by the different elevations of the characters in them.
Foreword by Harold Bloom to the 2000 edition
The publication of Northrop Frye's Notebooks troubled some of his old admirers, myself included.
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The description for this book, Anatomy of Criticism, will be forthcoming.

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