Case 6
Fearful Symmetry

Fearful Symmetry:  A Study of William Blake was Frye’s first publication. It was dedicated to Pelham Edgar, Frye’s professor at Vic, who taught him a course on William Shakespeare. Frye’s foundation of the unifying vision that comes alive on the pages of Fearful Symmetry first originated during his theological studies at Emmanuel College in 1934, when he enrolled in a graduate course on Blake, held by Herbert Davis (a scholar specializing in the study of Jonathan Swift). The book was a critically acclaimed success. In the words of Edith Sitwell, who wrote a review for the Spectator, the work is a “book of great wisdom, and every page opens fresh to doors on to the universe of reality and that universe of the transfusion of reality which is called art.”

The success of Fearful Symmetry propelled Frye as a recognized scholar as well as established his reputation at the University of Toronto. Following the publication of Fearful Symmetry, Frye received promotion to full professor at Victoria College.

Joseph Adamson, Northrop Frye: A Visionary Life. Toronto: ECW Press, 1993.