John Feaster

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kallich, Martin, 1918-2006||Herbert, Edward T.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Frye; Northropages


It is generally conceded, even among those who disagree with much of what he has written, that Northrop Frye is one of the most significant of contemporary literary critics. This study is basically a commentary on both his theoretical and applied criticism, and an attempt to provide at least a preliminary evaluation of his influence on the direction of contemporary critical thought. The first chapter, therefore, is a descriptive analysis of Anatomy of Criticism, Frye's seminal work in literary theory, and the work most clearly expressing the principles upon which the whole of his criticism— practical and theoretical—is based. The second chapter attempts briefly to assess the opinions of the critical community toward this work, while pointing out several misconceptions concerning its basic tenets. The third chapter examines Frye's theoretical principles at work in various applied contexts, and suggests a number of the weaknesses inherent in his critical philosophy. Conclusions reached, briefly, are that Frye's theory, though claiming to be synoptic, constitutes de facto exclusion of critical methods not relevant to the study of literary structure, and that Frye's emphasis on structural analysis is often achieved at the expense of humanistic and aesthetic considerations.


Includes bibliographical references.


iv, 92 pages




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