March 11, 2007

A Critical Path Indeed

"It seemed to me obvious that, after accepting the poetic form of a poem as its primary basis or meaning, the next step was to look for its context within literature itself. And of course the most obvious literary context for a poem is the entire output of its author" (Frye 183).

Frye is on a quest, it seems in "The Critical Path". The age old quest to find the perfect form of literary criticism- one that can find the "true" meaning of the literature, if there even is such a thing. And intertextuality is it?

He argues that critics need a form that does not draw too heavily on one idea, but encompasses all of them, like a mixture of all criticism. One should not draw too much on the historical elements, as they are often not as important to the piece as the reader may assume. Much like Keesey's Introduction, the other criticisms can be disregarded to make way for intertextuality- being able to find that perfect relationship between one form of literature to another and drawing ideas of each other. It has less to do with influence than similarity- the reader understanding one piece in order to understand another. Intertextuality moves away from other forms that are often forced on a piece of literature, and may not work to bring out its meaning or purpose, by looking at the text (and other texts) instead. But how important is this understanding of the "central theme of literture" and not other forms of criticism? Can't we use all of them at some points?

Frye, ''The Critical Path'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by VanessaKolberg at March 11, 2007 3:50 PM | TrackBack

You bring up some good points, Vanessa. I'm curious in many ways, like you, how Frye's argument for this use of lit. crit. can actually improve what we already do.

As humans, I think it's natural for us to try to relate things to one another. Since we like familiar and habitual things in life, we're likely to assimilate things (like texts) so that we can understand them. This goes without any criticism.

Trying to pull together all the types of literary criticism for one "form" seems ridiculous, though. That's why all these varieties of crit. exist--to form the body of lit. crit.! I'm annoyed when I think that Frye didn't see this... why reinvent the wheel (or lit. crit. in this case).

I'm taking issue with intertextuality. I brought up in both Dave and Mitchell's blogs that it seems like intertextuality is something we already do... without someone delineating what it truly is (or isn't, for that matter). I think readers should be given more credit since the body of lit. crit. (whether readers know it or not) is there to help them deconstruct the literature and understand it. Intertextuality makes me think that perhaps readers only use other texts to understand a text... in which case, how did they ever understand that very first text? What reference did they have? What about the text of life as influence? (This sort of touches on the definition I posted about intertextuality on my blog:


Posted by: Karissa at March 12, 2007 4:06 PM

What is "intertextuality," sounds like a hyper-lingual way of saying 'bookish sexuality.' I'm sorry, but let's try and define concepts before trying to use them in sentences like "And intertextuality is it?" A quick way to lose the audience.

Posted by: Stephan Puff at March 12, 2007 10:14 PM


Had you been in the class and done the exciting amount of reading we have, you'd already know what it is and therefore, I would not need to define it.

Sadly, it does not mean "bookish sexuality" although that would make for a much much more interesting class...


I feel the same way! It's just one big circle- "Read to understand, understand by reading". The endless cycle.

Posted by: Nessa at March 12, 2007 10:21 PM

I think Frye appreciates other forms of literary criticism. He employs them in certain works. What he is really saying is that he does not think his contemporaries have properly utilized intertextual criticism. For Frye, many of the techniques we have discussed are already a part of intertextual study. I have noticed a great deal of overlap between the various techniques we have discussed, and I think Frye believes intertextual criticism encompasses more of them as a natural part of its process than any of the others.

Posted by: Dave Moio at March 14, 2007 8:27 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?