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The Great Code: The Bible and Literature av…

The Great Code: The Bible and Literature (urspr publ 1982; utgåvan 1982)

av Northrop Frye

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
804820,223 (4.07)11
An examination of the influence of the Bible on Western art and literature and on the Western creative imagination in general. Frye persuasively presents the Bible as a unique text distinct from all other epics and sacred writings. “No one has set forth so clearly, so subtly, or with such cogent energy as Frye the literary aspect of our biblical heritage” (New York Times Book Review). Indices.… (mer)
Titel:The Great Code: The Bible and Literature
Författare:Northrop Frye
Info:Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (1982), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 261 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


The Great Code: The Bible and Literature av Northrop Frye (1982)


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> [Question de]. Northrop Frye, La Bible et la littérature Tome 1 : Le Grand code. In: Question de n°61, 1985 – Tibet, une culture en exil. p.123 (Lectures par Robert Amadou)
Aux éditions du Seuil, Le Grand code de Northrop Frye, essai réussi sur le mythe biblique qui domine notre culture occidentale et sur sa projection sur la littérature.
  Joop-le-philosophe | Jul 18, 2019 |
This book is Frye's take on the Bible and its meaning. As a literary critic, he's clearly out of his element tackling the Bible: he makes egregious mistakes, is dependent upon biblical scholars for essential ideas, and presents his own without a context. And this lack of context shows. His views on typology are arbitrary and uncontrolled by any hermeneutical principle that I could detect. And since linguistic meaning is created by juxtaposition, his association of type and anti-type produced ludicrous results. On the other hand, his discussion of metaphor in general and in the Bible specifically was generally helpful and at times insightful. Frye is caught between how the Bible is and has been understood by people and cultures down through the ages and how the Bible was intended to be understood by the original authors to the original recipients. He should have stuck with the "reader response" side of how the Bible has been used in Western civilization, for that is his expertise. His attempts to confuse that approach with actually interpreting the message and meaning of the Bible are unconvincing at best. ( )
  KirkLowery | Mar 4, 2014 |
"The Great Code" really re-configured the way that I conceive of the Bible as a literary document. After two centuries of historical criticism (or narrative criticism as it's called when applied to the Bible), it is refreshing to see a whole new interpretive methodology which looks inward at the Bible, instead of trying to test its significance by how well it correlates to something outside of itself. And that is the central thesis to Frye's argument - that the Bible is a unified mythology, replete with its own literary devices, that hardly needs confirmation from history or archaeology to successfully tell the story (mythos) that it tells. Because of this, the book has been the target of a number of appropriate historicist critiques, all claiming that one can't cut wholly separate the work of literature from its social and cultural context. Although these criticisms aren't all fair themselves, as Frye even considers the structure of certain metaphors (like the ubiquitous flood myth) modulate themselves repeatedly via literary transmission into new texts.

The first part of the book consists of a highly condensed theory of language which Frye employs in the second half. I found this part just as useful, yet often elided in critical reviews. According to Frye, his own ideas are highly influenced by Vico's "Scienza Nuova" which posits the idea of a cyclical theory of language wherein each human epoch uses language in a unique, irreducible way. In his tripartite interpretation, there is the hieroglyphic stage in which words have the pure energy of potential magic, the hieratic stage in which words begin to reflect an objective reality of a transcendent order, and the demotic stage, where prose continues its subordination to "the inductive and fact-gathering process," and seems to be the stage we remain in today. If this evolution has taken us full circle from feel the pure immediacy of metaphor, how are we supposed to read the Bible (whose language is, of course, one of pure metaphorical immediacy)? Nietzsche said that God had lost his function, but Vico (and Frye in turn) might have replied that the Bible is simply entombed in a lost part of the cycle, inaccessible and unable to be interpreted by the demotic. His neo-Viconian theory of language goes some way in offering a theory for the vulgarism that so often takes the name of Biblical interpretation: "With the general acceptance of demotic and descriptive criteria in language, such literalism becomes a feature of anti-intellectual Christian populism" (45).

The second part begins the literary criticism as one would more formally recognize it. According to Frye, the Bible can operate independently precisely because it functions and maintains its own body of rhetorical devices, including metaphor, and type, antitype, and archetype. "We clearly have to consider the possibility that metaphor is not an incidental ornament, but one of its controlling modes of thought" (54). Metaphor and trope become the sole measure of the Bible's inner verbal consistency. The "type" and "antitype" are essentially import; he construes the entire Bible as a series of musical call-and-response gestures between the Old and New Testaments: the Resurrection is the response to the Old Testament Promised Land, the baptism in the River Jordan is the New Testament's answer to the Old Testament's Red Sea. He also integrates a number of other complex typologies, including the Creation-Incarnation-Death-Descent to Hell-Harrowing of Hell-Resurrection-Ascension-Heaven motif and a nomenclature of types, including the "demonic," "analogical," and "apocalyptic." This universe - multiverse, even - of complex metaphor, meaning, and type are the ones that we continue to recognize, read, and struggle with today, which accounts for the fact that myth goes a long way in exploring who we are and what we do as a community. Notice how Frye deftly bypasses any theological or strictly philosophical concerns. As Frank Kermode would comment almost a decade after the book was published, "Just as he exiled questions of value from the Anatomy [of Criticism], he exiles from his Biblical criticism questions of belief."

I was considering giving this book four stars, because of my occasional disagreements with it (including the arguments from historicism mentioned above). But I can't in good conscience do that. Just for the interpretive vistas that it opens up, I feel that anything less than five would convey an impression that I was less than impressed, which certainly is not the case. ( )
4 rösta kant1066 | Oct 15, 2011 |
While carefully distinguishing the Bible from the various categories of secular literature, Northrop Frye applies the techniques and perspectives of his work in literary criticism to it in The Great Code. (The title phrase, like most of Frye's, is a quote from Blake.) The book works in an exploratory fashion that proceeds from the atomic level of language, through myth and metaphor, to the continuities involved in biblical typology. Then he traces the same arc in reverse, to integrate what he had previously analyzed.

Frye makes no pleas on behalf of supernatural agency or religious institutions. He discusses the Bible as a textual curiosity, and works to demonstrate the worth it can have for thoughtful readers, as well as the contributions that it has made to the mental infrastructure of our civilization. In the denouement of this volume, the first of several he would eventually write about the Bible, Frye cites Nietzsche and Feuerbach, and muses about magic and sexuality. As always, he is a lively and elegant writer.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys serious literature, and yet is tempted to dismiss the Bible as an anthology of ancient superstitions. It may also be a useful tonic for those who view the Bible as their own sectarian playground--although it is less likely to endear itself to them. For me, it mostly served as a convenient review and lucid exposition of ideas I had previously considered; but there were definitely fresh nuggets to be discovered throughout.
5 rösta paradoxosalpha | Jun 28, 2011 |
Man, is this guy ever smart.
I had to agree with every single thing he said. After I was done reading it, I thought, no wonder I am always so confused whenever I hear a preacher start talking about the Bible or about God; it's because he--the preacher--has probably never read Northrop Frye and doesn't realize that reading Genesis or the Revelation of St. John the Divine like science textbooks is bound to lead to fatal flaws in arguments. After this, I could never read the Bible in the same way again. Thank you Northrop Frye.
(On a side note, it was after reading Frye that I really started reading a lot of the poetry of William Blake; I am still not sure if I really understand Blake that well; must try again.)
2 rösta libraryhermit | Oct 20, 2010 |
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A sacred book is normally written with at least the concentration of poetry, so that, like poetry, it is closely involved with the conditions of its language.
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To put it another way, the Bible taken as a poem is so spectacularly bad a poem that to accept it all as poetry would raise more questions than it solves.
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An examination of the influence of the Bible on Western art and literature and on the Western creative imagination in general. Frye persuasively presents the Bible as a unique text distinct from all other epics and sacred writings. “No one has set forth so clearly, so subtly, or with such cogent energy as Frye the literary aspect of our biblical heritage” (New York Times Book Review). Indices.

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