Valente was not alone in being inspired by Frye. He was one of those teachers who often altered the direction of individual students’ lives. The longtime English professor (one of U of T’s longest serving) overcame his natural shyness sufficiently to give Margaret Atwood some personal advice when she earned her BA in 1961 – “deflecting” her, she said recently, from her “bohemian plans” to run away to Europe. “He knew of my writerly ambitions, and gave it as his opinion that I would probably get more writing done at Harvard than by drudging away as a waitress in Paris or London, while drinking absinthe and smoking myself to death.”
The advice gives a sense of how deeply Frye valued what the academy had to offer: discipline for the mind and fodder for the creative soul.
A tribute to Northrop Frye over at the University of Toronto’s U of T Magazine. [via U of T Magazine]