Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy

By B.W. Powe

© 2014

Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye are two of Canada’s central cultural figures, colleagues and rivals whose careers unfolded in curious harmony even as their intellectual engagement was antagonistic. Poet, novelist, essayist and philosopher B.W. Powe, who studied with both of these formidable and influential intellectuals, presents an exploration of their lives and work in Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy.

Powe considers the existence of a unique visionary tradition of Canadian humanism and argues that McLuhan and Frye represent fraught but complementary approaches to the study of literature and to the broader engagement with culture. Examining their eloquent but often acid responses to each other, Powe exposes the scholarly controversies and personal conflicts that erupted between them, and notably the great commonalities in their writing and biographies. Using interviews, letters, notebooks, and their published texts, Powe offers a new alchemy of their thought, in which he combines the philosophical hallmarks of McLuhan’s “The medium is the message” and Frye’s “the great code.”

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  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.9in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

Using interviews, letters, notebooks, and their published texts, Powe offers a new alchemy of their thought, in which he combines the philosophical hallmarks of McLuhan’s “The medium is the message” and Frye’s “the great code.”

Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy

By B.W. Powe

© 2014

Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye are two of Canada’s central cultural figures, colleagues and rivals whose careers unfolded in curious harmony even as their intellectual engagement was antagonistic. Poet, novelist, essayist and philosopher B.W. Powe, who studied with both of these formidable and influential intellectuals, presents an exploration of their lives and work in Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy.

Powe considers the existence of a unique visionary tradition of Canadian humanism and argues that McLuhan and Frye represent fraught but complementary approaches to the study of literature and to the broader engagement with culture. Examining their eloquent but often acid responses to each other, Powe exposes the scholarly controversies and personal conflicts that erupted between them, and notably the great commonalities in their writing and biographies. Using interviews, letters, notebooks, and their published texts, Powe offers a new alchemy of their thought, in which he combines the philosophical hallmarks of McLuhan’s “The medium is the message” and Frye’s “the great code.”

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.9in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    “Bruce Powe is a rare intellectual figure in the Canadian landscape. He has the sensibility and eloquence of a literary critic, and the power of persuasion of a cultural critic, definitely in the same league with the Canadian giants of the twentieth century.”
    Francesco Guardiani, Dept. of Italian, University of Toronto

    ‘Powe masterfully examines the theories of his teachers--Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye and finds coherence within the legendary conflict between the two, which ignited a synergy that is at once destructive and revealing.’
    J.L. Aucoin
    Choice vol 52:03:2014

    ‘There will likely be many McLuhan and Frye commentaries in the future, and with any luck some will be brilliant, but no one will ever write with such passion as Powe’s on the vision of these two beleaguered spiritual explorers.’
    Philip Marchand
    National Post, June 27, 2014

    Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy is a powerful study in literary theory and philosophy, written by a scholar with intimate knowledge and understanding of these twin giants of the 20th century intellectual landscape. This highly original work provides us with a dialectic between systems of thought that leads to a synthesis of unequivocal significance, or perhaps more properly, a portrait of polar oppositions that is mediated in a manner that is not only balanced and harmonious, but altogether magical.”


    Lance Strate, Department of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University

    “An entirely fresh view of McLuhan and Frye, the great Orator and the great Theorist, as exuberant visionaries who breached the future in tandem during their years teaching at the University of Toronto. Powe’s scholarship is marked by a distinctive ease and clarity of style rooted in a rigorous reading of all the pertinent texts.”


    Barry Callaghan, editor-in-chief, Exile: The Literary Quarterly

    Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye is the first book to thoroughly address the uncanny relation between these two great Canadian thinkers in a systematic way. B.W. Powe shows a deep knowledge of both McLuhan’s and Frye’s works, as well as of their critics.”


    Elena Lamberti, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, University of Bologna
  • Author Information

    B.W. Powe is an associate professor and the Creative Writing Program coordinator in the Department of English at York University.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments

    Prologue: The Juncture of Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye in 1946

    Intentions and Overview, Apocalypse and Alchemy in McLuhan and Frye

    Presences and Signatures: These Figures in their Ground

    The Critical Conflict Between McLuhan and Frye

    The Harmonies in Two Seers: Orchestrations and Complementarities

    Alchemy, Synergy in the Thinking of McLuhan and Frye

    The Lessons of Two Teachers: Guidance and Signs

    Notes

    Bibliography

    Index

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