Northrop Frye’s The Secular Scripture was first published in 1976 and was soon recognized as one of his most influential works, reflecting an extensive development of Frye’s thoughts about romance as a literary form. This new edition in the Collected Works of Northrop Frye series brings The Secular Scripture together with thirty shorter pieces pertaining to literary theory and criticism from the last fifteen years of Frye’s life.
Frye’s study illuminates the enduring attraction and deep human significance of the romance genre in all its forms. He provides a unique perspective on popular fiction and culture and shows how romance forms have, by their very structural and conventional features, an ability to address both specific social concerns and deep and fundamental human concerns that span time and place. In distinguishing popular from elite culture, Frye insists that they are both ultimately two aspects of the same “human compulsion to create in the face of chaos.” The additional late writings reflect Frye’s sense at the time that he was working “toward some kind of final statement,” which eventually saw the light of day, only months before his death, as Words with Power (1990).