Just Published – Marshall McLuhan & Northrop Frye: Apocalypse & Alchemy


Two of Canada’s central cultural figures, Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye are rarely seen as sharing the same path. Their eloquent but antagonistic public responses to each other’s work testify to a professional rivalry and underscore the legend of competing theoretical tribes. The first sustained comparison of their lives and work, Marshall McLuhan & Northrop Frye: Apocalypse & Alchemy calls into question this popular conception by revealing a curious harmony between the careers and output of these twin intellectual giants. By B.W. Powe

Poet, novelist, essayist and philosopher B.W. Powe draws upon his experiences studying with McLuhan and Frye, as well as interviews, letters, notebooks and published texts to expose the great commonalities in their writing and biographies. 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 “great code”. Much like the two thinkers who initiated it, what Powe christens the “visionary-apocalyptic tradition in Canadian letters” offers an original, dynamic approach to reading both literature and the broader culture.

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

Select Advance Praise for Marshall McLuhan & Northrop Frye:

“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

Publication Date: May 27, 2014

335 Pages, List price $32.95 (CAN), Paperback, 978-1-4426-1616-5

Northrop Frye  

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