Words with Power is the crowning achievement of the latter half of Northrop Frye's career. Portions of the work can be found in Frye's notebooks as far back as the mid-1960s when he had just finished Anatomy of Criticism, and he completed the book shortly before his death in 1991. Beyond summing up his ideas about the relation of the Bible to Western culture, Words with Power boldly confronts a host of questions ranging from the relationship between literature and ideology to the real meaning of words like 'spirit' and 'faith.' The first half of the 'double mirror' structure looks at the language in which the Bible is written, arguing that it is identical to that of myth and metaphor. Frye suggests, therefore, that given this characteristic, the Bible should be read imaginatively rather than historically or doctrinally. However, he is also careful to point out the ways in which the Bible is more than a conventional work of fiction. The second half is an astonishing tour de force in which Frye demonstrates how both the Bible and literature revolve around four primary concerns of human life.
This edition goes beyond the original in its documentation of Frye's dazzlingly encyclopedic range of reference. Profound and searching, Words with Power is perhaps the most daring book of Frye's career and one of the most exciting.
Northrop Frye (1912-1991) was one of the twentieth century's most influential English scholars and literary critics. Northrop Frye was a professor in the Department of English at Victoria University in the University of Toronto from 1939 until his death. His works include Words with Power and Anatomy of Criticism. Michael Dolzani is a professor in the Department of English at Baldwin-Wallace College.