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Northrop Frye
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Critic
    (July 14, 1912-January 23, 1991)
    Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
    Birth name was Herman Northrop Frye
    Literary critic
    Chancellor of Victoria College, University of Toronto (1978-91)
    Wrote ‘Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake’ (1947), ‘Anatomy of Criticism’ (1957), ‘The Educated Imagination’ (1963), and ‘The Great Code: The Bible and Literature’ (1982)
    Named a Companion of the Order of Canada (1972)
    He had no qualms about declaring himself a genius.
    He described the Canadian speaking style as a ‘monotone honk.’
    ’Commentary’ described him as ‘fading from prominence and now beginning to fade from memory.’ (2005)
    He inspired the doggerel, ‘Northrup Frye/What a guy/Reads more books than you or I.’
    He graduated high school before his 16th birthday.
    Before ‘Fearful Symmetry,’ Blake’s prophetic poems had often been dismissed as incoherent.
    He wrote, ‘Literature stretches us vertically to the heights and depths of what the human mind can conceive.’
    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Security Service spied on his participation in protests against the Vietnam War and apartheid in South Africa.
    Making you wonder about the Mounties’ competence, the biographical memo attached to his intelligence file noted, ‘At the present time, we are unable to ascertain what the initial 'H' stands for in Frye's name.’
    In one of the more unusual tributes to him, he appears as a character in Marvel Comics’ ‘Defenders,’ issue #133, with the Beast discussing ‘Fearful Symmetry’ with him. (He was reportedly quite pleased, even though the drawings in the comic book did not really look like him.)

Credit: C. Fishel


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