While still an undergraduate, he developed a deep fascination with the complex poetic prophecies of William Blake, particularly Milton, The Four Zoas, and Jerusalem, considered by many scholars to be the product of an eccentric, possibly insane, visionary.
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In Frye's first year of graduate work, in which he took concurrent training as a minister for the United Church of Canada primarily Methodist , Frye decided to write a definitive book on Blake which would break Blake's difficult symbolic code. This near obsession sustained him through two unhappy years of graduate work at Merton College, Oxford, where he studied with poet Edmund Blunden in and , after which he taught English at Victoria College for over four decades.
Heavily influenced by British scholars of myth, particularly James Frazer, he worked diligently on the Blake book from to , finally producing Fearful Symmetry. Published in , it is still considered the definitive reading of Blake. It shows that Blake's poetic universe was not psychotically personal but had close affinities with other major poetry.
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Basically Frye proposed that all literature fit into a grand apocalyptic pattern of heaven and hell. Aspects of literary expression such as tragedy the Fall , irony unrelieved hell , romance resurrection , and comedy communal reconciliation form an interconnected circular pattern analogous to the Last Judgment or the wheel of fortune motifs common in medieval art.
Because Frye considered that the ideas he developed through Blake were unusually relevant to literary theory generally, he wrote a series of articles in the early s suggesting how academic critics and students of literature could greatly improve their comprehension of their subject. He suggested the development of a standard symbolic and rhetorical terminology similar to that of musical studies.
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He spurned any evaluative, aesthetic factors as too subjective. Eliot, and Wallace Stevens, he considered all literature relevant, including folk tales, detective novels, and science fiction.
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He combined his ideas for the reform of literary studies in Anatomy of Criticism , probably the most influential book of criticism written in English in the 20th century. It has been translated into many languages. While important, the Anatomy of Criticism is a difficult book intended for professional scholars. Frye produced a much simpler book for general readers, The Educated Imagination, in He also developed a strong populist interest in the s in reforming the way literature was studied and taught in the schools.
A major New York publisher produced a series of readers for grades seven to 12, Uses of the Imagination, based on Frye's ideas.
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Two college anthologies were also developed. While Frye hoped to write a sequel to the Anatomy of Criticism, he became too busy with the practical implications of his ideas to concentrate on it.
In he finally settled on a book on the Bible's influence on English literature as a third major work. As with his first two major books, he took a decade to produce The Great Code , and, like the others, it was both controversial and best selling in university circles. It was even number two on the Canadian non-fiction best selling list for six weeks. Frye's basic point was that the Bible has provided the basic patterns of symbolism and imagery for nearly all of the literature of western cultures.
As a result, the Bible must be carefully read and studied by all students of literature.
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Frye then began work on a sequel, Words with Power , showing how English literature has heavily borrowed its structural forms from the Bible. Words with Power was the last of forty books of literary criticism written by Frye. The work is a study of the relationship of Biblical language to the language and thought of mythology, literature, and everyday life. Frye died in Toronto Jan. He was McIntyre remembered the professor's ability for "showing off his students, letting them know that they really were better than they knew.
Not only could he put things together effortlessly, but in the doing he easily persuaded us of its rationale. Now, to mark the program s 40th a Greening the Maple Northrop Frye Ecocriticism can be described in very general terms as the investigation of the many ways in which culture and the environment are interrelated and conceptualized. Ecocriticism aspires to understand a The Stubborn Structure Northrop Frye First published in , this collection is made up of a selection of essays composed between and , written by distinguished humanist and literary critic Northrop Frye.
The book is divided in Northrop Frye's Student Essays, Northrop Frye 'Frye was a person of uncommon gifts, and very little that came from his pen is without interest. Frye describes the basis of the tragic vision as "being in time," in which death as "the essential event that gives shape and fo
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