THE WELL-TEMPERED CRITIC by Northrop Frye

THE WELL-TEMPERED CRITIC

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KIRKUS REVIEW

These are five finger exercises from master critic Northrop Frye; they are concerned, for the most part, with the determinants of a literary education; as such they are both dazzling and down-to-earth, sprinkled with a few showy cadenzas and of home truths. The Professor pulverizes senseless, sentenceless pseudo-prose surrounding ""us like a boa constrictor, which is said to cover its victims with slime before strangling them""; he also defines the numerous metaphors of relaxed will (Keats' negative capability, Eliot's objective correlative); smartly and sardonically anatomizes associative speech from Pickwick's Alfred Jingle to Ulysses' Bloom and the teenage twister; clarifies the classic camps of opposition; the Hebraic tradition of moral art and order and the hedonistic one of autonomous aesthetics; and throughout adroitly demonstrates the gamut of style whether demotic or hieratic, low or high. Language, according to Frye, is an inexhaustible inheritance, an awaiting adventure: man's new worlds are ""only those which the free and disciplined use of words can help to create"". Critic Frye celebrates such a creed with patience, personality and, whenever he wishes, an immense and purposeful persuasion.

Pub Date: April 4th, 1963
Publisher: ndiana Univ. Press