Quotes from The Educated Imagination

"...the creative and the neurotic minds have a lot in common. They're both dissatisfied with what they see; they both believe that something else ought to be there, and they try to pretend it is there or to make it be there."

"All writers are conventional.... For the serious mediocre writer convention makes him sound like a lot of other people; for the popular writer it gives him a formula he can exploit; for the serious good writer it releases his experiences or emotions from himself and incorporates them into literature, where they belong."

"We know nothing about Shakespeare except a signature or two, a few addresses, a will, a baptismal register, and the picture of a man who is clearly an idiot."

"Literature does not reflect life, but it doesn't escape or withdraw from life, either: it swallows it."

"What we'd never see except in a book is often what we go to books to find. Whatever is completely lifelike in literature is a bit of a laboratory specimen there. To bring anything really to life in literature we can't be lifelike: we have to be literature-like."

"It's important too that everything that has a story, such as a myth, should be read or listened to purely as a story. Many people grow up without really understanding the difference between imaginative and discursive writing. On the rare occasions when they encounter poems, or even pictures, they treat them exactly as though they were intended to be pieces of more or less disguised information. Their questions are all based on this assumption. What is he trying to get across? What am I supposed to get out of it? Why doesn't somebody explain it to me?"

Incidentally, C.S. Lewis has a fabulous essay where he touches on the cause behind this though-pattern. On a Description of the Times.

2 comments:

mikey_dude11 said...

can you site which pages these quotes were taken from? that would be very useful, thanks. Mike Hofman

Noël De Vries said...

I don't have the book anymore but you can search it at

http://books.google.com/books?id=PF3ldTeLloUC&dq=the+educated+imagination+northrop+frye&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=U2AqS6bpJ4ennQe6gLntCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=&f=false