New Book Announcement: Marshall McLuhan & Northrop Frye: Apocalypse & Alchemy


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.”


  • 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

 Author  Excerpts from ‘The Spectral Ball of Theory’  B.W. Powe is an associate professor and the Creative Writing Program coordinator in the Department of English at York University.


“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

2 Responses to “New Book Announcement: Marshall McLuhan & Northrop Frye: Apocalypse & Alchemy

  1. 1 Steven Meyerson

    Notify me of new posts via email.

    • Steve – The only way to be informed of new postings, of which there are approximately 2 to 3 per week, is to subscribe to it yourself. You do this on the homepage on the right hand side under the blogroll section; scroll down to McLuhan’s picture under the heading “a man for all media”. There you will find a window into which you enter your email address. Welcome to the McLuhan Galaxy!

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