The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance

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Harvard University Press, Jan 1, 1976 - Literary Criticism - 199 pages
12 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 framework, bringing to bear his extraordinary command of the whole range of literature from antiquity to the present.

Romance, a mode of literature trafficking in such plot elements as mistaken identity, shipwrecks, magic potions, the rescue of maidens in distress, has tended to be regarded as hardly deserving of serious consideration; critics praise other aspects of the Odyssey, The Faerie Queene, Shakespeare's last plays, and Scott's Waverley novels, for example, while forgiving the authors' indulgence in childishly romantic plots. Frye, however, discerns in the innumerable romantic narratives of the Western tradition an imaginative universe stretching from an idyllic world to a demonic one, and a pattern of action taking the form of a cyclical descent into and ascent out of the demonic realm. Romance as a whole is thus seen as forming an integrated vision of the world, a "secularscripture" whose hero is man, parallelingthe sacred scripture whose hero is God.

The clarity of Northrop Frye's perception, the scope and suggestiveness of hisconceptualizing, the wit and grace of hisstyle, have won him universal admiration.

  

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

User Review  - Susan Holtz - Goodreads

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 ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Susan Holtz - Goodreads

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 ... Read full review

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About the author (1976)

Herman Northrop Frye was born in 1912 in Quebec, Canada. His mother educated him at home until the fourth grade. After graduating from the University of Toronto, he studied theology at Emmanuel College for several years and actually worked as a pastor before deciding he preferred the academic life. He eventually obtained his master's degree from Oxford, and taught English at the University of Toronto for more than four decades. Frye's first two books, Fearful Symmetry (1947) and Anatomy of Criticism (1957) set forth the influential literary principles upon which he continued to elaborate in his numerous later works. These include Fables of Identity: Studies in Poetic Mythology, The Well-Tempered Critic, and The Great Code: The Bible and Literature. Frye died in 1991.

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