The First Major Theoretician?: Northrop Frye and Literary Theory

Jonathan A Allan

Abstract


William Calin in his book, The Twentieth Century Humanists: From Spitzer to Frye, declares that Northrop Frye was “arguably the last great humanist critic and the first major theoretician” (118). In this paper, I am concerned with the latter part of his claim, specifically, Frye and the history of literary theory. As such, this paper provides an historical overview of Frye's work and then moves to consider the complexity of this claim, especially Frye's role in the development of literary theory, and ultimately his concern about the primacy, if not dominance, of literary theory.

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