About the Author

Northrop Frye

Northrop Frye (1912-1991) was one of Canada's most distinguished men of letters. His first book, Fearful Symmetry, published in 1947, transformed the study of the poet William Blake, and over the next forty years he transformed the study of literature itself. Among his most influential books are Anatomy of Criticism (1957), The Educated Imagination (1963), The Bush Garden (1971), and The Great Code (1982). Northrop Frye on Shakespeare (1986) won the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction. A professor at the University of Toronto, Frye gained an international reputation for his wide-reaching critical vision. He lectured at universities around the world and received many awards and honours, including thirty-six honorary degrees.

Books by this Author
Biblical and Classical Myths

Biblical and Classical Myths

The Mythological Framework of Western Culture
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook
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City of the End of Things

City of the End of Things

Lectures on Civilization and Empire
edition:Paperback
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Divisions on a Ground

Essays on Canadian Culture
edition:Hardcover
tagged : canadian
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Fearful Symmetry

Fearful Symmetry

A Study of William Blake
edition:Hardcover
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Fools of Time

Fools of Time

Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook eBook
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Modern Classics: The Great Code

Modern Classics: The Great Code

The Bible and Literature
edition:Paperback
tagged : religion
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Northrop Frye Unbuttoned

Northrop Frye Unbuttoned

Wit and Wisdom From the Notebooks and Diaries
edition:Hardcover
tagged : literary
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Spiritus Mundi

Spiritus Mundi

Essays on Literature, Myth, and Society
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
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The Bush Garden

The Bush Garden

Essays on the Canadian Imagination
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback eBook
tagged : canadian
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The Critical Path

The Critical Path

An Essay on the Social context of Literary Criticism
edition:Paperback
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The Double Vision

The Double Vision

Language and Meaning in Religion
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : religious
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The Myth of Deliverance

Reflections on Shakespeare's Problem Comedies
by Northrop Frye
introduction by A. C. Hamilton
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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The Return of Eden

Five Essays on Milton's Epics
edition:eBook
tagged : essays, drama, canadian
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Three Lectures

University of Toronto Installation Lectures, 1958
edition:eBook
tagged : essays, higher
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Hetty Dorval
Excerpt

One

The day that Mrs. Dorval’s furniture arrived in Lytton, Ernestine and I had gone to the station to see the train come in. It was a hot day. The heat of the sun burned down from above, it beat up from the ground and was reflected from the hot hills. Mr. Miles, the station agent, was in his shirt-sleeves; the station dog lay and panted, got up, moved away, lay down and panted again; and the usual Indians stood leaning against the corners of the wooden station (we called it “the deepo”) in their usual curious incurious fashion, not looking as though they felt the heat or anything else. The Indians always looked as though they had nothing to do, and perhaps they had nothing to do. Ernestine and I had nothing much to do, but school was out and supper wasn’t ready and so we had drifted over to the station. Neither of our mothers liked us to do this every day; but we were not absolutely forbidden.

When the train clanked in, a number of the stifling passengers got out seeking coolness in the bright glaring heat of the station platform. Ernestine and I watched these passengers with experienced eyes and saw that there was no one interesting to us. We did not find grown-ups interesting, but were always on the look-out for other children or for dogs. And sure enough there at the end of the train was a large dog, perhaps a Newfoundland, hot in his hot coat. The train men had got him out of a freight car, and then they heaved and pushed and lifted out a huge crated object that might be a piano, and then they got out packing case after packing case.

Directly the great dog stood upon the platform, looking sadly and nobly about him, a woman moved up to him and said casually, “Well, Sailor,” and you might almost say the dog smiled. His thick bell-rope of a tail swung and he moved up to the woman who patted him lightly but gave her full attention to the crates and packing cases that the train hands and station hands deposited upon the platform. Ernestine and I had seen this woman before in the Lytton main street, but she was really the kind of woman that you don’t notice. You might see her in a village, or in a big city, or in a street-car, or on a train, and you would never notice. Nevertheless, we now saw that she had authority. She was dressed in dark grey. Her hair was dark grey too, and was taken straight back from her plain strong face. Suddenly she began to be interesting to Ernestine and to me, because she belonged to Sailor the dog and to all the new packing cases.

We did not need to ask, because, before you could count fifty, word had travelled along the platform, perhaps from the station agent or perhaps from the express company, to us and through us, and even to the leaning inscrutable Indians, that the dog Sailor and all these packing cases belonged to a Mrs. Dorval and that Mrs. Dorval had taken that square bungalow all alone above the river, just to the east of Lytton. So as Ernestine and I had nothing better to do, we trailed along the dusty road behind the waggon that took the first load out. The horses toiled up the winding trail, sending up clouds of fine clay dust, and we idled far enough behind to be out of the worst of it. Mrs. Dorval rode with the teamster. The trucks were out that day and one was broken down, so they had to use the team. The toiling waggon topped three or four little slopes before it reached the square bungalow above the river. Only the knowledge that we were to see something new in Lytton, and the niceness of having something to tell our families that would cause us to be important made Ernestine and me keep on walking in the dust and heat behind the waggon, because the declining sun, still just above the high near hills, was very hot indeed. You couldn’t walk on the side of the road very well because there was nothing but sage and tumbleweed, and that made walking difficult, although it was easy enough to ride horseback there.

The sun dipped behind the hills across the river and the windows of the bungalow ceased blazing with evening sunlight. At once you felt the cool air as if it were the earth’s cool breath. Anybody looking out of the front windows of Mrs. Dorval’s bungalow could look down on to the racing Thompson River. Perhaps the water was emerald, perhaps it was sapphire. It is both. It is neither. It is a brilliant river, bluegreen with lacings of white foam and spray as the water hurls itself violently along in rapids against hidden or projecting rocks, a rapid, racing, calling river. The hills rise high and lost on each side of the banks. These hills are traversed hardly at all. There is no reason to climb, to scale the top, to look down. In the sunlight the dun-coloured gorges of the blue-green river look yellow and ochreous, and in some places there are outcroppings of rock that are nearly rose red. Large dark and solitary pine trees give landmark and meaning. Here and there in a gully an army of these dark pointed pine trees marches up an ancient waterway of the hill-side, static. How do they grow on stone? A figure of man or of beast crawling distant across the great folds and crevasses of these sprawling hills would make you stop, look, point with surprise, and question. One is accustomed to their being empty of life. As evening comes on, the hills grow dove grey and purple; they take on a variety of surprising shapes and shades, and the oblique shafts of sunlight disclose new hills and valleys which in daylight merge into one and are not seen. It is the sage-brush that covers nearly everything, that helps to transform everything, and that in the mutations of sunlight and moonlight helps to change the known hills to the unfamiliar. Because the hills are so desolate, strange and still, without movement, the strong brilliant water in headlong motion at their base holds your eyes with its tumult. If the person in Mrs. Dorval’s bungalow feels any fear of this desolate scene, or if the person is subject in solitude to moods of depression or despair, then that person had better take her piano and her dog Sailor and her packing cases and go by train or by the Cariboo highway to some comfortable town full of people. No one can travel by the Thompson River at Lytton; it is too turbulent and too thickly sown with rapids.

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Design for Learning

Reports Submitted to the Joint Committee of the Toronto Board of Education and the University of Toronto
edited by Northrop Frye
edition:eBook
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Literary History of Canada

Canadian Literature in English (Second Edition) Volume I
edition:eBook
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