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HUMANITIES 97 But when the 'process' fulfils itself- in our art, in our action - shall we see IT face to face? And what are we to understand by this 'something' which happened 'at the beginning'? Was the Word in the beginning? And was this the Word made flesh-the divine Person? Is it that we do not need to be told? Or could it be, as Richard Webster said recently of the structuralists, that Frye is providing 'a church for those too pure to entertain the idea of a god'? Such a church, I must suppose, could not be called St Thomas - or Trinity. Certainly Frye does less than justice to the main line ofChristian theology, to the doctrine of Christian liberty, and to the often vivifying influence of the church on all the arts. But Frye's church is not the church which Richard Webster locates in structuralism. Frye's church is The Church of the Holy Verb. And it is indeed a church! For throughout this intriguing and provocative essay in mythologizing and de-mythologizing, done in the hope of searching out the dark mystery of creation in the visible act of human creativity, we cannot be unaware of an authentic kind of religiOUS impulse. Frye's quest seems to be a quest for pure act, nameless, beyond personality, beyond and before the tentative transience of myth - pure act to be made present to us ultimately in the untrammelled freedom of our own creativity. This is the religious quest - or, rather, an aspect of the religious quest. But one wonders if Northrop Frye has not needlessly hampered this great enterprise and narrowed and shortened his own bright vision by the repression, or dismissal, or avoidance of the pertinent insights of Christian theology and the raptknowledge of the mystics. (MALCOLM ROSS) Kenneth Quinn. Texis and Contexts: The Roman Writers and Their Audience Routledge & Kegan Paul '979. ix, 266. $)6.75 Professor Quinn's latest book is a new departure for him, an introductory overview of Latin literature in the classical period. The task calls, it might be supposed, for impassive factuality first, convincing summary second, and controversial exploration last of all. Not so, it appears. When the 'blurb' promises 'a history of Roman literature in which the emphasis is laid on the quality of the texts discussed rather than on comprehensiveness of treatment, and on organic relationships rather than on chronology: those who know Quinn's earlier LAtin Explorations will rightly expect a display of provocative judgments, unorthodox perspectives, and saltatory connections. I am not convinced that it becomes the professional enfant terrible to shift his aim from unsettling the stuffy academics to assuring novices a safe entry into classical writings. I am sure that the book will not become an accepted handbook. Texts and Contexts offers its text for a range of contexts, among them 1/ use as a textbook, 2 / interest in literature from the proverbial General 98 LEITERS IN CANADA 1980 Reader, 3 / not least, I think, though least proclaimed, the public image presented by Latin studies. 1/ Most of the information is, ofcourse, correct (odd to find Seneca and Lucan cousins, p 213). But the coverage is wilfully erratic (e.g., five slighting pages for Propertius, three for Juvenal- most of the space taken up with translated extracts). The evaluations are idiosyncratic and at times bi2arre (in particular post-Augustan literature is stigmati2ed with a moral fervour - 'morbid symptoms of the time in which Lucan lived,' and so forth - unrepresentative of responsible post-Victorian criticism; at times Quinn seems to be writing series of'examination questions': e.g., 'Persius may be described as a Horace who has turned Stoic and lost his sense of humour' [p 196]- discuss!). Most seriously of all, however, the review is vertiginously disengaged from chronology- on principle. The strategy no doubt keeps Quinn's interest going, but 1 think it betrays a lack of pedagogic realism. 'Students taking classical literature in translation courses and ... students of English literature,' to quote the blurb again, will not be able to use Texts and Contexts as a reference book without losing the contexts of the texts they are set to read. For instance, the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 97-99
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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