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Northrop Frye on Shakespeare
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the book that opened Shakespeare up to me. In a college Shakespeare class, which I came into with a strong anti-Shakespeare bias, I found myself confused with the language, bored and indifferent with the stories and frustrated. So, I went out and picked up this book (I had read Frye's the Archetypes of Literature) and it immediately changed my outlook on the old bard. I soon noticed that much of what my professor was lecturing in class was taken from Frye's work. I had discovered the secret. This is a very readable, interesting and witty look into many of the Shakespearean plays. Frye is quite unusual for a literary critic, he's fun to read.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Frye's essays on Shakespeare are distinguished by their accessibility. In "The Anatomy of Criticism" and "Fearful Symmetry" as well as other, more scholarly work, Frye demonstrates his profound insights into literature generally in the former and Blake's work in the latter. In both works, the reader is expected to have significant background in literary studies.
"Northrop Frye on Shakespeare" is targeted for the general reader. Frye's commentary helps any reader understand the Bard, but it does so in a more accessible style than any other work I have read by Frye. Ideally suited for the high school student or the college undergraduate, Frye's essays provide excellent entry points into many of Shakespeare's plays for the student who wishes to delve further into these essential works. Not exhaustive like Bloom's "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human," or scholarly and advanced like Cavell's "Disowning Knowledge," Frye's work invites the reader to ponder some key points and formulate her own ideas.
This collection of essays complements the other works mentioned in this review. As an introductory set of essays on Shakespeare, it is without peer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
As the introduction makes clear, this book is not so much a composition of Frye's thought (cf. Anatomy of Criticism, Great Code) as a transcription of lectures for an undergraduate Shakespeare course at the U of Toronto, clipped and smoothed to be readable in essay-format. There is good stuff here, and it makes one jealous of those lucky enough to have had Frye for a teacher- BUT, this work does not have the thoroughness and rigor of Frye's actual books. Most notably for me, there are no citations and no bibliography (except in-text references to the plays being discussed). There are several points at which I would like to see references for some of the assertions Frye makes, for instance the idea of the three-season year in the discussion of A Mid-summer Night's Dream.

Keeping that in mind, as others have said there is some very readable and accessible discussion of Shakespeare here. This would be a good place to start if you are doing a high school or intro-level undergraduate course in Shakespeare. For my money, the late Professor Frye was one of the best academic writers of all time, with the rare combination of immense learning and lucid prose style. This book is worth reading, but definitely check out his more in depth works as well.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Great secondary resource to compliment Shakespeare's plays. Using for graduate study.
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8 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Frye expertly reviews and comments on over half-a-dozen of the Bard's best works. The only problem with the book is that he doesn't look at more of Shakespeare's works!
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0 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I looked all through the chapters on the comedies, particularly _A Midsummer Night's Dream_, and could find no reference to his famous "Green World." There were casual allusions to a "wood-world," but I knew that wasn't it. I felt misled. SO, if you're looking for the source of his Green World idea, this is not the book.
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2 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is excellent. Only two words are needed to explain its incredible value: "Green World"! Nothing more needs to be said.
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