This article explores the earliest reviews of the Anatomy of Criticism, constructing a microhistory of the moment when the unsuspecting critics of 1957-1966 first encountered Northrop Frye’s massive new critical theory. Their long-forgotten reviews reveal the critical concepts they brought to the attempt to understand Frye’s ideas, and illustrate why criticism as they understood it proved vulnerable when, with equal suddenness, in 1966 the
Age of Derrida superseded what Harold Bloom would call
The Age of Frye. Though the few Canadian reviewers (with one exception) spoke with the same voice as those in the US and England, the long-term consequences of Frye’s theories were very different on native ground. Only once did Frye himself debate his critics directly, and though the ideas of the Anatomy inform all his later work, the critical path he himself was choosing in the same decade would lead neither to Paris nor New Haven.
The Age of Frye: Dissecting the Anatomy of Criticism, 1957-1966” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 214 (Autumn 2012): 15-29.
Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.