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Herman Northrop Frye
Norrie, The Systematizer, The Anatomist, The Archetyper, The Carl Jung of Literature, The Frygian
Male. I was thankfully not swamped in post-structuralist questions of gender identity. I just put on a tie and went to work without spending a day of my life feeling like an oppressive patriarch.
Let's just get this out from the get-go: I'm not one of your fancy French theorists. I was from terribly un-hip Canada—and I loved it. I was born in Quebec, but we moved to Moncton, New Brunswick (go Wildcats). I had a sister and a brother—he died in World War I (that makes me seem old, which I guess I am). Dad was a hardware merchant, and Mom was, well, Mom.
I almost became a devoted member of the clergy, but when I turned to teaching, I turned for good. I taught at Victoria College (part of the University of Toronto) for the rest of my professional life, dedicating myself to the education of undergraduates. I wasn't one of those snooty types who are too above it to teach the little people.
At the beginning, school was kind of a bummer. I went to the way depressing Victoria School, and then Aberdeen High, where education was like "penal servitude" (source). No teasing, but I started out going to typing school and even competed in a big Canadian typing contest (second place). I went to college at Victoria College, picked up a degree in philosophy and English (with honors, naturally), then proceeded to earn my M.A. at Merton College, Oxford. That's right—I made it out of Canada. But I returned.
I'm not one of these critics who's political political, though I do have the distinction of having been spied on by the RCMP, Canada's equivalent of the CIA. No—it wasn't for my radical interpretations of Aristotle's natural order; it was for my opposition to the Vietnam War (as if I was the only one) and for my work to end South African apartheid. Apparently my teach-ins were a threat to the Canadian secret service.
I was never one to offer off-the-cuff commentary on religion, and I didn't pay too much attention to Hinduism, Islam, or pretty much any spiritual belief system aside from Christianity... which explains why I would say something like "our civilization is so far committed to Christianity [...] that we [may regard] 'Christianity' and 'religion' as interchangeable terms" (source).
Reading the classics