“the Bible forms the lowest stratum in the teaching of literature. It should be taught so early and so thoroughly that it sinks straight to the bottom of the mind, where everything that comes along later can settle on it” (110).I find it somewhat ironic that a secular scholar should say something like this at a time when even many Christians have almost forgotten about the Bible. Literature aside, shouldn't all Christians be taught what the Bible says, “so early and so thoroughly that it sinks straight to the bottom of the mind, where everything that comes along later may settle on it”?
Just like Victor Davis Hanson, Frye also advocates early training in Greek and Latin authors before exploring later modern writers. Biblical and classical knowledge is foundational to understanding both the allusions of later authors and basic literary forms, yet Frye states that there is “a deficiency in the earliest stages of literary teaching for both poet and reader” (113). A few hundred years ago authors were taught the Bible and the classics, today, “modern poets don't get the same kind of education, as a rule: they have to educate themselves” (113). In case you think this is a slightly too dismal accusation of our education system, consider the Ancient World Literature course at my community college. The catalogue reads: “a majority of the works will be selected from a non-Western literary tradition.” As if this were not bad enough, the course isn't even offered this semester so I am stuck with World Literature After 1500 (again, the majority of works in this are from a non-Western tradition). (Plus, they canceled the only American Literature course when I tried to register. Does anyone have a conspiracy theory I can subscribe to that will explain this or should I make one up?)
Fry, Northrop. The Educated Imagination. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 1964, (2006?).