Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake

Though it was written in the 1940s, Northrop Frye s Fearful Symmetry is arguably still the most comprehensive and comprehensible book on William Blake Despite the bewildering complexity of much of the work of this 18th century visionary poet and painter, Blake remains perennially popular And though Frye warns against assuming that any poet writes with one eye on hisThough it was written in the 1940s, Northrop Frye s Fearful Symmetry is arguably still the most comprehensive and comprehensible book on William Blake Despite the bewildering complexity of much of the work of this 18th century visionary poet and painter, Blake remains perennially popular And though Frye warns against assuming that any poet writes with one eye on his own time and another confidently winking at ours, he insists nonetheless that Blake s poetic methods and ideas remain relevant, indeed revelatory What Blake demonstrates is the sanity of genius and the madness of the commonplace mind, and it is here that he has something to say to the 20th century, with its interest in the arts of neurosis and the politics of paranoia Frye illuminates in the course of the book s 12 chapters the philosophical, religious, and aesthetic dimensions of Blake s thought and work excluding his visual art This is complemented by a roughly chronological commentary on the poet s 50 year literary oeuvre from early works like All Religions Are One, and the deceptively simple Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, to late encyclopedic epics like Jerusalem Though the coherence of Frye s account might seem a little forced to the post modern reader, his explanations and speculations provide invaluable critical insight while still leaving readers plenty of opportunity for independent discovery Blending judiciously deployed erudition and an infectious passion for his subject, Frye insists that reading Blake on his own terms which is precisely what Fearful Symmetry tries to do is only the beginning of a complete revolution in one s reading of all poetry Russell Prather
Fearful Symmetry A Study of William Blake Though it was written in the s Northrop Frye s Fearful Symmetry is arguably still the most comprehensive and comprehensible book on William Blake Despite the bewildering complexity of much of the

  • Title: Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake
  • Author: Northrop Frye
  • ISBN: 9780691012919
  • Page: 136
  • Format: Paperback
  • 1 thought on “Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake”

    1. Well this book is alternately fascinating and frustrating, a long, discursive summary of "Blake's thought" as Frye sees it. Because of how labrynthine and involuted Blake's writing was - especially in the prophetic books - there are necessarily quite a few 25-30 page sections of pure summary, things like "Urothria is the son of Spooptapulus, wife of Borg, which means that the artistic imagination reigns supreme in the third dyad, blah blah blah." I just made those names up, but I'm going to gues [...]

    2. Fearful Symmetry is one of the most important works of 20th century English criticism and deserves the widest audience possible. Being the key work of Northrop Frye it must be read by anyone truly committed to understanding him. While Frye has written many other outstanding books, none contain such a complete and cogently argued statement of Frye's ideas. Fearful Symmetry accomplishes two important things: (a) it explains why the Bible is the "Great Code" of English literature and (b): it explai [...]

    3. One of the two seminal works on Blake in the twentieth century, the second being Erdman's Prophet Against Empire. Frye's study of Blake led to his Anatomy of Criticism, a defining work within literary criticism in English. Frye's work is a study of Blake's symbols, approaching Blake's work as myth (as opposed to Erdman's, who reads Blake's work historically). It's still an excellent work for someone first venturing in to Blake's labyrinthine prophet works.

    4. This is a profound work of criticism, the subject being the life work of William Blake. It's very unusual in its poetic and visionary content. This is a very far out book, which altered my conceptions of Blake, as well as the Bible, and world history.

    5. "Cosmology is a literary art, but there are two kinds of cosmology, the kind designed to understand the world as it is, and the kind designed to transform it into the form of human desire. Platonists and occultists deal with the former kind Cosmology of this type is speculative, which() is ultimately intellectual narcism, staring into nature as the mirror of our ordinary selves. What the mirror shows us is what Blake calls “mathematic form,” the automatic and mindless universe that has no be [...]

    6. Northrop Frye is one of those amazing literary critics no one's ever heard of. I first discovered him when handed a collection of lectures he gave on canadian radio. This is a very astute reading of Blake.

    7. Frye offers up a compelling interpretation of the entire corpus of Blake's work. If you love Blake, you will love Fearful Symmetry.

    8. An excellent book about Blake's theories and concerns. If your thinking about trying to make sense of his intense poetic visions, this is a good place to start.

    9. As I said about in my review of William Blake's works, there is an audience for this but it's not me. If you are interested in literary criticism, 18th century philosophy, and the unusual cosmology/mythology of Blake, this is the ideal book for you. If not, then you may want to dip into this book as you read works by Blake. That's what I'm doing and Frye provides as lucid an introduction as is possible for Blake.

    10. "There is only one false religion as there is only one true one; and it has two infallible marks. First, it postulates some kind of God who is unknown and mysterious because he is not inside us but somewhere else: where, only God knows. Second, it preaches submission, acceptance and unquestioning obedience. The sting is in the tail. Religion of this kind being invented only to buttress the status quo, it is always 'State Religion, which is the source of all Cruelty.'."In the unfallen world objec [...]

    11. Don't let anyone tell you that you'll never read one of the books that has sat for decades on your shelves unread. I'm now reading Northrop Frye's Fearful Symmetry, a study of William Blake's poerty, the very same copy that I bought about 40 years ago, and have been lugging about for just as long in the clear and unremitting anticipation that one day I would actually read it. And so I am. I'll report later whether it was worth the wait.

    12. I used this book in college to write my senior thesis about Blake's portrayal of women in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Songs of Innocence and Experience, and The Visions of the Daughters of Albion. Honestly, my paper was pretty god awful, I think. I wish someone would have told me that. Instead, I got an A I believe. Anywho, that's my story. (P.S. Blake was kind of crappy toward women, like just about every one of his contemporaries.)

    13. This is quite a book, and one that you wade through the first time, and go back to a second. Frye's first major work of criticism, it rescued the poetry of William Blake from allegations of obscurity. As someone who reads, writes and enjoys paranormal literature, I was fascinated by Blake's idea that all languages and religions have their roots in a primordial myth. Rich stuff to play around with!

    14. I'm always returning to this book in conjunction with reading William Blake. I'd love to contact my old college prof and ask if he would please send me a copy of his notes on the class he taught on Blake and Whitman.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *