Anatomy of Criticism Essay example

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Anatomy of Criticism Introduction

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
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Frye completely ignores literature that is outside the Western classics; contemporary literature and literature from the Oriental traditions, for example, remains outside Frye's scheme, and he makes no margin whatsoever for including such writings in his theory. This rigid, inflexible system doesn't allow for literature other than works abstracted from Frye's narrow aggregation of central myths, and the identity of both the writer and any individual work of literature is lost in Frye's structure. The Identity of the Reader

In addition to excluding the identity of the writer and of works of literature, Frye's literary schema also ignores the identity of the reader. In his Polemical Introduction to the Anatomy of Criticism, Frye argues that "[literature] is a disinterested use of words: it does not address a reader directly" (p4). It is only criticism, he says, that can speak. We must dispute this, however, for surely the writer means for his or her work to converse with the reader in some manner. Frye would remove the reader from the experiencing of literature, but this is impossible, for there is a constant dialogue between a literary work and one's individual experience of that work. Frye himself would seem to admit this: "The reading of literature should...step out of the talking world of criticism into the private and

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