Northrop Frye

Northrop Frye
Frye, Northrop, 1912-1991 (subject)Stawicki, Andrew (photographer)Toronto Star (Firm) (publisher) Fair Use

Northrop Frye's most famous work is the Anatomy of Criticism. In that work, Frye attempted to create a systematic approach to literary criticism that grew out of the stories themselves, a wholly internal set of criteria that are distinct from mere taste.

Frye spent the rest of his career unpacking the implications of what he identified in the Anatomy. My task is to understand what Frye began, and continue his project.


Northrop Frye on Symbol as Image
Stories create an image of typical actions and typical personalities.

Northrop Frye on Literal and Descriptive Phases
The characteristic methods for analyzing these phases are seeing symbol as motif, and seeing symbol as sign.

Northrop Frye's Second Essay
In the second essay, Frye will turn to the different contexts in which we interpret symbols.

Northrop Frye's First Essay
Putting heroic modes of action and thematic modes together with contemporary examples.

Northrop Frye on Thematic Modes
Thematic modes are closely allied from heroic modes of action in general, but can differ in individual works.

Northrop Frye on Heroic Modes of Action
Frye borrows from Aristotle's Poetics for his analysis of heroic mode of action.


Northrop Frye's Phase Space
Frye's system is much more flexible and intuitive than it first appears. It can be likened to a phase space, created by looking at the relative change between two points in the space, and noting the direction and magnitude of that change.

Northrop Frye on the Romance
Frye explains the difference between a novel and the romance.