Northrop Frye

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Frye, Northrop

(nôr`thrəp), 1912–91, Canadian literary critic, b. Quebec. In 1936 he was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada. In 1948 he was appointed professor of English at Victoria College, of which he was later principal (1959–66). Fearful Symmetry (1947) is an authoritative study of William Blake's symbolism and religious mysticism. His most influential study, Anatomy of Criticism (1957), a synoptic overview of the principles and techniques of literary criticism, attempts to uncover and categorize the underlying myths and archetypes of world literature. The Great Code: The Bible and Literature (1982) is a discourse on the narrative and stylistic devices of the Bible. His other major works include The Well-Tempered Critic (1963), as well as studies of Shakespeare, Milton, T. S. Eliot, and the English romantic poets.


See studies by D. Cook (1986) and I. Balfour (1988); bibliography by R. D. Denham (1987).

References in periodicals archive ?
By the time Northrop Frye set out to write what would become the definitive monograph on Blake, and the book that would make his name as a critic, Fearful Symmetry (1947), dozens of books had been published on Blake, as Frye himself makes clear in the posthumous Northrop Frye on Milton and Blake.
Yet, from the late 1930s until his last public address in 1990, Northrop Frye wrote and spoke more than a little about the literature, culture, and history of his native Canada.
Northrop Frye saw the power of the indomitable human imagination to visualize an ideal world and employ the power of myths to bring it about
Four theorists were especially prominent spokesmen for this approach: Mircea Eliade who discussed myths from an angle of religion studies; Carl Gustav Jung who theorized about them in the context of psychology; Northrop Frye who studied the working of myth in literature, and Joseph Campbell who explored the totality of myth's impact by referring to the insights of all three disciplines.
While Northrop Frye suggested that metaphors from architecture "may be misleading" when we are talking about verbal art, Tobin defies this wisdom by exploring the rust, bolts, ridged pavement, and sharp edges of a structure which, in his poetry, clearly stands for more than what it literally is.
Northrop Frye sees the world of the fairies as having "affinities with what we call the unconscious or subconscious part of the mind: a part below the reason's encounter with objective reality, and yet connected with the hidden creative powers of the mind.
Northrop Frye (1957) made a waspish academic wisecrack on the subject: "the fallacy of what in history is called determinism, where a scholar with a special interest in geography or economics expresses that interest by the rhetorical device of putting his favourite subject into a causal relationship with whatever interests him less.
Impelled to reconsider his Protestant roots following his mother's death and inspired by the writings of Marshall McLuhan, Northrop Frye and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Elder set out to make his own Book of Praise.
Fussell lists the three stages of the quest as described by Northrop Frye (the journey, the struggle, and the exaltation of the hero) and comments that "it is impossible not to be struck by the similarity between this conventional 'romance' pattern and the standard experience re-enacted and formalized in memoirs of the war" (130).
The reviews are predictably familiar: a volume in the Records of Early English Drama series, on Sussex; Annabel Patterson's Throckmorton; Robin Jackson's 1818-19 Coleridge Lectures in the Collected Works series; Victor Shea and William Whitla's Essays and Reviews project; the latest Collected Works of Northrop Frye volume; and the Editing on the Page volume of the Toronto Conference on Editorial Problems.
Leavis, William Empson, Northrop Frye, and Lionel Trilling, among others, were revered.
The best known proponent of myth-symbolic criticism was Northrop Frye, who explored those great, overarching narratives that inform much myth and early literature and continue to exist, often in displayed or in fragmentary form, in various later genres.

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