Northrop Frye Peter Cummings - Essay

Peter Cummings

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In] Frye's work the disinterested philosophy of aesthetic literary criticism and the socially conscious philosophy of humanistic criticism threaten to meet head-on as irresistible force and immovable object. Frye himself recognizes this antithesis. It is dealt with explicitly and self-consciously at several points in his criticism, and it is ultimately resolved in something like a mature and willing resignation. That is, Frye seems to conclude that the paradox is inevitable. Moreover, he concludes that the fundamental dualism of literature as both a disinterested art and a product of the engaged human imagination, makes it impossible for criticism to be perfectly consistent. But to be so it must become a hybrid of...

(The entire section is 1799 words.)