Category Archives: Frye in Literature

James Pollock: “Northrop Frye at Bowles Lunch”

The Preface to Blake’s Milton

James Pollock’s new poem about the young Norrie in the latest issue of Agni here.

Northrop Frye at Bowles Lunch

“I have had sudden visions.”
Bloor Street, Toronto, 1934

3 a.m. in the all-night diner, dizzy
with Benzedrine and lack of sleep, old books

and papers scattered across the table.
With his pen, his Dickensian spectacles,

his pounding, driving Bourgeois intellect,
he charges into a poem by William Blake

with two facts and a thesis, cuts Milton
open on the table like a murdered corpse

and spins it like a teetotum until
he’s put each sentence through its purgatory

and made the poet bless him with a sign:
thus (though perhaps one can picture this

only from a point outside of time)
he sees the shattered universe around him

explode in reverse, and make the flying
shards of its blue Rose window whole again.

Sylvia Maultash Warsh: “The Queen of Unforgetting”


Sylvia Maultash Warsh has published a novel featuring Northrop Frye, The Queen of Unforgetting. An extended excerpt can be read here.

The synopsis provided by Cormorant Books reads:

Approaching a scholar and critic as legendary as Northrop Frye is a daunting task — but not for Mel Montrose. Armed with a prestigious academic award and a nothing-to-lose attitude, she convinces Frye to supervise her ambitious thesis exploring E.J. Pratt’s epic poem about Jesuit missionary Jean de Brébeuf. To embark on her study, Mel takes a job at the newly reconstructed historical site at Sainte-Marie-among-the-Hurons, where de Brébeuf and seven other missionaries met their tragic ends. But Mel soon learns that delving into Ontario history is no escape from her own when an obsessed admirer threatens to destroy her academic career.

Milton Acorn


Today is also “the people’s poet” Milton Acorn‘s birthday (1923 – 1986).

Here’s Acorn on Frye in what is arguably a Menippean satire, “On Not Being Banned By Nazis…” in More Poems for People:

After all, the fascist poet, Ezra Pound,

Who continues to pass off his preposterous

common and dull Cantos as very profound, also condemned

Academics. The fast-rising patriotic poet

Robin Mathews is a professor.  Pound was not.

Obviously, when I was saying academics, I meant some-

thing else.

I now realize that what I meant was “Imperial

Academics” – such as Northrop Frye, who in the past did

more than any other man to abolish everything native

and non-European in our literature.

Filmed interviews with Al Purdy and Milton Acorn on poetry and socialism after the jump.

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