Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, 2000 - Literary Collections - 383 pages
7 Reviews

Striking out at the conception of criticism as restricted to mere opinion or ritual gesture, Northrop Frye wrote this magisterial work proceeding on the assumption that criticism is a structure of thought and knowledge in its own right. In four brilliant essays on historical, ethical, archetypical, and rhetorical criticism, employing examples of world literature from ancient times to the present, Frye reconceived literary criticism as a total history rather than a linear progression through time.

Literature, Frye wrote, is "the place where our imaginations find the ideal that they try to pass on to belief and action, where they find the vision which is the source of both the dignity and the joy of life." And the critical study of literature provides a basic way "to produce, out of the society we have to live in, a vision of the society we want to live in."

Harold Bloom contributes a fascinating and highly personal preface that examines Frye's mode of criticism and thought (as opposed to Frye's criticism itself) as being indispensable in the modern literary world.

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Review: Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays

User Review  - David Crisman - Goodreads

Groundbreaking influence on the understanding and criticism of literature, both classic and modern. Read full review

Review: Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays

User Review  - Yngvild - Goodreads

Anatomy of Criticism is one of those books that I reference several times a year. It always has an informed opinion on any author, book or genre I might want to consider. I don't have to perfectly agree with what Northrop Frye says to appreciate his take on a subject. Read full review

About the author (2000)

Herman Northrop Frye was born in 1912 in Quebec, Canada. His mother educated him at home until the fourth grade. After graduating from the University of Toronto, he studied theology at Emmanuel College for several years and actually worked as a pastor before deciding he preferred the academic life. He eventually obtained his master's degree from Oxford, and taught English at the University of Toronto for more than four decades. Frye's first two books, Fearful Symmetry (1947) and Anatomy of Criticism (1957) set forth the influential literary principles upon which he continued to elaborate in his numerous later works. These include Fables of Identity: Studies in Poetic Mythology, The Well-Tempered Critic, and The Great Code: The Bible and Literature. Frye died in 1991.

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