A Tribute to Northrop Frye

It was with sadness that we learned that Dr. Northrop Frye had died. Dr. Frye has given much to many by his deep insight into literature and the Bible. Two of Frye's last books were The Great Code, The Bible and Literature (1983) and Words With Power: Being a Second Study of "The Bible and Literature" (1990). In these books he demonstrated his thesis that the Bible provides the structure and forms of secular literature

Northrop Frye wrote in the foreword to Words With Power:

This book continues the study begun in a book published some years ago called The Great Code, subtitled "The Bible and Literature." The significance of the "and" was that I was not attempting to isolate the literary features of the Bible, or deal with "The Bible as Literature." There were already many books on that subject. I wanted to suggest how the structure of the Bible, as revealed by its narrative and imagery, was related to the conventions and genres of Western literature.

Dr. Frye was a minister as well as a teacher of literature. In all his work, I believe he was fulfilling his ministerial calling. That quality is readily apparent in "The Bible and Literature" volumes. He combined extensive learning with deep common sense.

Dr. Frye was kind enough to respond to Pietisten's coverage of him at the The Joseph Warren Beach Lecture at the University of Minnesota (Pietisten, Spring, 1990) with the letter printed in the Fall, 1990 issue.

Our sympathies to his wife, who accompanied him to the lecture in Minnesota, and to his family and friends. He dedicated his final book, Words With Power, to his secretary Jane Widdicome. We will remember him with gratitude as we read his books. Fortunately there are plenty — about 25. Here is a partial list:

  • Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake
  • Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays
  • Fables of Identity
  • The Stubborn Structure
  • The Critical Path
  • Creation and Recreation
  • The Great Code: The Bible and Literature
  • No Uncertain Sounds
  • Northrop Frye on Education
  • Words With Power