Robert D. Denham pursues his quest to uncover
the links between Northrop Frye and writers and others
who directly influenced his thinking but about whom
he did not write an extensive commentary.
The first chapter is about Frye’s reading of Patanjali,
the founder of the philosophy of Hindu yoga, while
the second, discusses cultural mythographer
Giambattista Vico, literary history and poetic language.
The focus of Frye’s criticism was the verbal arts,
but he also had an abiding interest in both the visual
arts and music; hence Frye’s admiration of J.S. Bach.
The essay on Tolkien examines the tendency in literary
history to return from irony to myth, as well as the role
that Tolkien played in Frye’s fiction-writing fantasies.
In subsequent chapters, Denham explores Frye’s
preference for romance and his critique of realism,
which run parallel to the views of Oscar Wilde, and their
strong shared convictions about the centripetal thrust
of art, and about criticism being as creative as literature.
Frye’s appreciation for Whitehead’s concept
of interpenetration in Science in the Modern World
became a key feature of Frye’s speculations about the
highest reaches of literature and religion. Frye is clearly
indebted to Martin Buber, particularly his influential
meditation I and Thou. Aristotle, an important influence
upon Frye, was partially filtered through R.S. Crane
and his The Languages of Criticism and the Structure
of Poetry. Finally, the relationship between Frye
and his Oxford tutor Edmund Blunden are explored,
while the last is an essay on Frye and M.H. Abrams
on how Frye’s critical project might be viewed
developed in Abrams’s The Mirror and the Lamp.