In his Anatomy of Criticism, Northrop Frye offers a complex theory that aspires to describe a unifying system for literary criticism. It can be argued, however, that in attempting to delineate such an all-inclusive structure, Frye’s system eliminates identity in literature. The present essay takes up this argument and offers examples of how identity is precluded by Frye’s system as outlined in Anatomy of Criticism. Structure Vs. Identity
In Frye’s system, the organizing principles that give literature coherence and structure are derived from the myths of ancient Greece and the archetypal imagery found in the Bible. In his Third Essay, Frye suggests that all literature is based on displacements of these myths. In postulating this, however, Frye denies the individual identity of a work of literature: it becomes merely another abstraction of an axial symbol, an embellished copy of an archetypal myth. This tenet essentially annexes the identity of the writer as well, for every work of literature is seen by Frye as being based on or derived from all other works. The originality of a writer’s ideas is denied, and the author’s identity is therefore negated. There is no such thing as an ‘original’ literary identity in Frye’s system. For Frye, literature must lead back to the Garden, to mythical symbolism; if a literary work does not displace an archetype, then it is not considered to be literature. Although it seems that Frye is able to find axial imagery in almost any work, we must ask what his theory of myths excludes. If we look at the works cited in the Anatomy, we see that Frye concentrates much of his discussion on the classics of Western literature (Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton, T.S. …
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…y in this quote by removing the individual from the question: the immediacy of “Who am I?” is replaced with the more disinterested and impersonal “Where is Here?” But the questioning of identity is central to the Canadian imagination, and is perhaps an axiom of our identity. In decontextualizing and desocializing literature, Frye denies the Canadian literary identity. Conclusion Northrop Frye’s theory of literary criticism attempts to include all literature in a structure that totalizes. In doing so, however, identity is excluded: the identity of the writer, the reader, and individual works ofliterature is denied; in denying these identities, Frye perhaps precludes the identity of literature itself. List of References Used Frye, Northrop (19 ). The Bush Garden.
Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1957.
Free Siddhartha Essays: The River and the Mind/Body Dichotomy
The River and the Mind/Body Dichotomy in Siddhartha
In Herman Hesse’s work Siddhartha, the primary physical symbol of division is the river. One side of the river represents “geist”, or a realm concerned with the spiritual world. The second side represents “natur”, the natural world where the flesh is engorged with pleasure and earthly satisfaction. Siddhartha begins on the spiritual side of the river. He is in training to become an excellent Brahmin like his father, much is expected of this intelligent and attractive young man. Yet Siddhartha feels a rumbling in his body and mind. His soul is not satisfied with the answers that he has received about problems in life. He feels the need to live his home in order to find these answers. He is willing to sacrifice security for insecurity and danger. His travels renew and strengthen his spirit.
The structure of the story is centered around the apparatus of “iterative-durative time”, a technique in which the author follows a loose linear chronlogy, with each part covering approximately twenty years, while only about one or two of those years are described in any detail. The effect easily lulls the reader into a perception of the passing time.
He first spends time with a roving band of asceitics, forest-dwelling nomads that prefer to live a life of extreme sacrifice and self-denial. Siddhartha masters their art and goals, but shortly decides to move on after only a few years. He is not able to find his quest for salvation and understanding on such a path. Throughout his journey, his friend Govinda stays by his side. He decides to leave the town with him, come with him and practice with the ascetics, and then agrees to leave with him to seek out the Illustrious One, Gotama. Siddhartha does not find the answers to his spiritual queries here either, and decides to move on again. This time Govinda, his “shadow”, decides to stay and make a niche for himself. Siddhartha strikes out on his own, crossing the center symbol of the river with the help of the boatman Vasudeva. After crossing the river he encounters an Indian woman who encourages him and allows him to kiss her nipple. His experience with the “natur” world has begun, his experiences of the sense being heightened and readied for a sensual deluge.
He remains on the sensual side of the river for twenty years and in that time impregnates his seductive teacher and partner Kamala.