The Diaries of Northrop Frye, 1942-1955
Published: October 2001© 2001
736 Pages, 6.52 x 9.52 x 2.35 in
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With the publication of Fearful Symmetry in 1947, Northrop Frye gained wide renown as a literary theorist, a reputation that continued to build throughout his lifetime. This volume in the Collected Works provides a transcription of the seven books of diaries that Frye kept intermittently from 1942 until 1955. During the period of the final six diaries, 1949 - 1955, Frye was at work on Anatomy of Criticism, and he refers frequently to many of the essays written during this period that became a part of the book that brought him international acclaim.
For Frye, diary-writing was a tool for recording "everything of importance" and this ruled out very little. His entries contain a large measure of self-analysis and self-revelation, and in this respect are confessional -- we see his sanguine humour, dark moods and claustrophobia, along with the more self-congratulatory aspects of his character. But the volume also serves as a chronicle. Peering over Frye's shoulder, we watch him teach his classes, plan his career, record his dreams, register his frank reactions to the hundreds of people who cross his path, eye attractive women, reflect on books, music and movies, ponder religious and political issues, consider his various physical and psychological ailments, practise the piano, visit bookstores, frequent Toronto restaurants, and record scores of additional activities, mundane and otherwise.
The volume is fully annotated and contains a directory that identifies the more than 1200 people who make an appearance. Published here for the first time, these chronicles provide an unprecedented view of the life and times of this now-legendary scholar.
'The Diaries are more vividly self-revealing than I could have anticipated. The running lament over wasted time, the self-reproach for clumsiness and evasiveness, the many minor illnesses (and only one cancelled lecture because of them) all came as a surprise to me, as did his keen observations, some kind, some unkind, on the people he encountered - great numbers of people. It was likewise a revelation to see so many of his ideas in the process of taking shape.'William Blissett, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Toronto