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More passionate than philosophy or science

July 29, 2010

Milton c. Cambridge U.

“Literature belongs to the world man constructs, not to the world he sees; to his home, not his environment. Literature’s world is a concrete human world of immediate experience. The poet uses images and objects and sensations much more than he uses abstract ideas; the novelist is concerned with telling stories, not with working out arguments. The world of literature is human in shape, a world where the sun rises in the east and sets in the west over the edge of a flat earth in three dimensions, where the primary realities are not atoms or electrons but bodies, and the primary forces not energy or gravitation but love and death and passion and joy. It’s not surprising if writers are often rather simple people, not always what we think of as intellectuals, and certainly not always any freer of silliness or perversity than anyone else. What concerns us is what they produce, not what they are, and poetry, according to Milton, who ought to have known, is “more simple, sensuous and passionate” than philosophy or science.”

-Northrop Frye, “The Motive for Metaphor,” The Educated Imagination

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