The metaphor of the king as the shepherd of his people goes back to ancient Egypt. Perhaps the use of this particular convention is due to the fact that, being stupid, affectionate, gregarious, and easily stampeded, the societies formed by sheep are most like human ones.

— Northrop Frye

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Literature as a whole is not an aggregate of exhibits with red and blue ribbons attached to them, like a cat-show, but the range of articulate human imagination as it extends from the height of imaginative heaven to the depth of imaginative hell.

51

There is only one way to degrade mankind permanently and that is to destroy language.

26

Real unity tolerates dissent and rejoices in variety of outlook and tradition, recognizes that it is man's destiny to unite and not divide, and understands that creating proletariats and scapegoats and second-class citizens is a mean and contemptible activity.

24

Advertising - a judicious mixture of flattery and threats.

16

The world of literature is a world where there is no reality except that of the human imagination.

16

Man lives, not directly or nakedly in nature like the animals, but within a mythological universe, a body of assumptions and beliefs developed from his existential concerns.

13

We are being swallowed up by the popular culture of the United States, but then the Americans are being swallowed up by it too. It's just as much a threat to American culture as it is to ours.

12

I soon realized that a student of English literature who does not know the Bible does not understand a good deal of what is going on in what he reads: The most conscientous student will be continually misconstruing the implications, even the meaning.

11

We must reject that most dismal and fatuous notion that education is a preparation for life.

9

My subject is the educated imagination, and education is something that affects the whole person, not bits and pieces of him .

8

There is a curious law of art... that even the attempt to reproduce the act of seeing, when carried out with sufficient energy, tends to lose its realism and take on the unnatural glittering intensity of hallucination.

8

Culture's essential service to a religion is to destroy intellectual idolatry, the recurrent tendency in religion to replace the object of its worship with its present understanding and forms of approach to that object.

6

About Northrop Frye

Quotes 103 sayings
Nationality Canadian
Profession Critic
Birthday October 16

The pursuit of beauty is much more dangerous nonsense than the pursuit of truth or goodness, because it affords a stronger temptation to the ego.

6

Read Blake or go to hell, that's my message to the modern world.

6

The tricky or boastful gods of ancient myths and primitive folk tales are characters of the same kind that turn up in Faulkner or Tennessee Williams.

5

We have revolutionary thought whenever the feeling "life is a dream" becomes geared to an impulse to awaken from it.

5

The disinterested imaginative core of mythology is what develops into literature, science, philosophy. Religion is applied mythology.

5

Literature is a human apocalypse, man's revelation to man, and criticism is not a body of adjudications, but the awareness of that revelation, the last judgement of mankind.

4

Failure to grasp centrifugal meaning is incomplete reading;

failure to grasp centripetal meaning is incompetent reading.

4

Most of my writing consists of an attempt to translate aphorisms into continuous prose.

4

The poet, however, uses these two crude, primitive, archaic forms of thought (simile and metaphor) in the most uninhibited way, because his job is not to describe nature, but to show you a world completely absorbed and possessed by the human mind.

4

Nature is inside art as its content, not outside as its model.

3

I see a sequence of seven main phases: creation,revolution or exodus (Israel in Egypt), law, wisdom, prophecy, gospel, and apocalypse.

3

It is of the essence of imaginative culture that it transcends the limits both of the naturally possible and of the morally acceptable.

3

Just as a new scientific discovery manifests something that was already latent in the order of nature, and at the same time is logically related to the total structure of the existing science, so the new poem manifests something that was already latent in the order of words.

3

In our day the conventional element in literature is elaborately disguised by a law of copyright pretending that every work of art is an invention distinctive enough to be patented.

3

The primary and literal meaning of the Bible, then, is its centripetal or poetic meaning.

3

Beauty and truth may be attributes of good writing, but if the writer deliberately aims at truth, he is likely to find that what he has hit is the didactic.

3

For the serious mediocre writer convention makes him sound like a lot of other people; for the popular writer it gives him a formula he can exploit; for the serious good writer it releases his experiences or emotions from himself and incorporates them into literature, where they belong.

3

The entire Bible, viewed as a "divine comedy," is contained within a U-shaped story of this sort, one in which man, as explained, loses the tree and water of life at the beginning of Genesis and gets them back at the end of Revelation.

1

Metaphors of unity and integration take us only so far, because they are derived from the finiteness of the human mind.

1

Nobody is capable of of free speech unless he knows how to use language, and such knowledge is not a gift: it has to learned and worked at.

1

Writers don't seem to benefit much by the advance of science, although they thrive on superstitions of all kinds.

0

Work, as we usually think of it, is energy expended for a further end in view;

play is energy expended for its own sake, as with children's play, or as manifestation of the end or goal of work, as in "playing" chess or the piano. Play in this sense, then, is the fulfillment of work, the exhibition of what the work has been done for.

0

Literature speaks the language of the imagination, and the study of literature is supposed to train and improve the imagination.

0

Literally, the Bible is a gigantic myth, a narrative extending over the whole of time from creation to apocalypse, unified by a body of recurring imagery that "freezes" into a single metaphor cluster, the metaphors all being identified with the body of the Messiah, the man who is all men, the totality logoi who is one Logos, the grain of sand that is the world.

0

No matter how much experience we may gather in life, we can never in life get the dimension of experience that the imagination gives us. Only the arts and sciences can do that, and of these, only literature gives us the whole sweep and range of human imagination as it sees itself

0

The human landscape of the New World shows a conquest of nature by an intelligence that does not love it.

0

Physics is an organized body of knowledge about nature, and a student of it says that he is learning physics, not nature. Art, like nature, has to be distinguished from the systematic study of it, which is criticism.

0

Writing: I certainly do rewrite my central myth in every book, and would never read or trust any writer who did not also do so.

0

The simplest questions are the hardest to answer.

0

No human society is too primitive to have some kind of literature.

The only thing is that primitive literature hasn't yet become distinguished from other aspects of life: it's still embedded in religion, magic and social ceremonies.

0

The objective world is the order of nature, thinking or reflection follows the suggestions of sense experience, and words are the servomechanisms of reflection.

0

The tremendous efficiency and economy of the book has once again demonstrated itself. It's the world's most patient medium.

0

We are always in the place of beginning; there is no advance in infinity.

0

Those who do succeed in reading the Bible from beginning to end will discover that at least it has a beginning and an end, and some traces of a total structure.

0

Man is constantly building anxiety-structures, like geodesic domes, around his social and religious institutions.

0

In literature, questions of fact or truth are subordinated to the primary literary aims of producing a structure of words for its own sake, and the sign-values of symbols are subordinated to their importance as a structure of interconnected motifs.

0

The Bible should be taught so early and so thoroughly that it sinks straight to the bottom of the mind where everything that comes along can settle on it.

0
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