Robert D. Denham, Northrop Frye: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Sources. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987. xviii + 449 pp. $50.00.
Robert Denham’s Northrop Frye: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Sources updates and replaces his earlier Northrop Frye: An Enumerative Bibliography (1974) and its four supplements and addenda. It is divided into two sections: Frye’s own writings (the primary sources) and criticism thereof (the secondary sources). It has two indexes: a name and subject index and a title index.
Although arranged chronologically in the earlier bibliography, Frye’s writings are here broken up into ten divisions: books; books edited; monographs; essays, interviews and dialogues; audio and visual recordings; manuscripts; unpublished correspondence; and a catchall division which lists Frye’s undergraduate writings, his university reports, his letters to periodicals, and even his replies to questionnaires. Within each section Frye’s writings appear chronologically except for the manuscripts and unpublished correspondence, where several thousand items are listed according to the special collections or archives where they are held. All editions, reprints, and translations are listed (up to June 1987) along with the main entry; and a system of cross-reference and a comprehensive index of titles insure that a reader will find any item (except book reviews). All these entries are followed by a descriptive statement, varying in length according to the importance, length, and complexity of Frye’s original.
The secondary sources appear in six divisions: books and collections of essays; essays and parts of books; reviews, where each of Frye’s twenty-two books receives separate treatment; dissertations and theses; bibliographies; and a miscellaneous section which includes news stories, biographical notices, letters, and anecdotes. In the earlier bibliography Denham included summaries for “Writings about Frye’s Criticism,” which reappear here virtually unchanged, but he now includes expositions for almost all the secondary materials, with a “brief notice” for short and unimportant entries. All are arranged by author; but for those who wish to trace changes of attitude toward Frye’s work, Denham has added an appendix, “A Chronological Listing of Entry Numbers for Books and Essays about Frye’s Criticism.”
Denham’s new bibliography is a welcome tool for researchers into the work of an author whose writings have established him as probably the most influential humanistic critic living, an author who is still productive. His writings on Blake have established him as surely the most seminal influence in Blake studies. Although the analytical arrangement makes the new bibliography somewhat difficult to use, this reviewer has only two other, relatively minor complaints to register. In the earlier book Denham made some attempt to winnow the wheat from the chaff. Here he has excised all his praise and denigration. Moreover, in the earlier bibliography Denham informed his readers that the reviews were not listed in the title index. However, on page 430 of the Annotated Bibliography the opening statement leads a reader to expect to find them in the title index. He does not.