Case 9
Frye and Canadian Literature

Frye’s early unflattering impressions of Canadian literature reveal that he considered the national  body of poetry and prose to be a manifestation of culture that was not yet fully developed. In The Bush Garden: Essays on the Canadian Imagination (1971), he argues that we cannot say of any Canadian writer what we can say of the world’s major writers, "that their readers can grow up inside their work without ever being aware of a circumference.”

However, Frye’s opinion of national literature underwent a transformation following the rise of Canadian authors (such as Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro and Timothy Findley) on the international literary scene. Writing in On Education, he asserted that “this maturing of Canadian literature… is the greatest event of my life, so far as my own direct experience is concerned.”

Joseph Adamson, Northrop Frye: A Visionary Life. Toronto: ECW Press, 1993.
Northrop Frye, The Bush Garden: Essays on the Canadian Imagination. Toronto: Anansi Press, 1971.
Northrop Frye, On Education. Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 1988.