PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Next Issue Beverley Bie Brahic, after Leopardi's 'Broom' Michael Freeman Benefytes and Consolacyons Miles Burrows At Madame Zaza’s and other poems Victoria Kenefick Hunger Strike Hilary Davies Haunted by Christ
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This review is taken from PN Review 30, Volume 9 Number 4, March - April 1983.

ANATOMY OF SCRIPTURE Northrop Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature (Routledge) £9.95

The Bible, now, is curving out of sight. Our whole relationship to it has been profoundly, irrevocably altered by the complex changes of our century; we see it at a distance, through a glass darkly. But if we can release ourselves from the frantic liberations of our time, we can still re-enter its inner spaces, and see that these offer a topography of our own condition which enlightenment must learn or founder, once more, in misery and blood. But our modern Sadducees, in the Anglican Church and elsewhere, reject that map, redrawing it for modern consumption: in the beginning was the Word, but now God knows New-speak. So the task of keeping the Bible alive has fallen, in the main, to teachers of literature in higher education. An odd dispensation, to be sure; the profession has its Christians, but many of its members profess other beliefs, or no beliefs at all: but of course it is pedagogy, more than Paraclete, that drives them to the Book. Our cultural amnesia in respect of the Bible causes aphasia: unscriptured students can't read. Northrop Frye acknowledges that The Great Code had its profane source in pedagogy, and says that this book is, like his others, really a teacher's manual. He is far too modest, of course.

His book takes its title from Blake's axiom: 'The Old and New Testaments are the Great Code of Art': that is, they are a central source, in Western culture, of structures of rhetoric and ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image