Abstract

A focus on the ‘affectionate parodies’ of classic English ghost stories that Davies wrote and performed for the Massey College Gaudy Nights reveals the national subtext of ghosts and haunting in Robertson Davies’ fiction. Complicating Frank Davey’s critique of the notoriously Eurocentric ‘post-nationalism’ of Davies’ satires of Canadian identity and culture, this paper sees Davies’ annual production of Canadian ghosts as a cosmopolitan but still national project of imagining a Canadian identity that would be permanently and productively haunted by spectres of a ‘marvellous’ European past. The ‘cheerful ghosts’ that populate Davies’ light-hearted parodies of English ghost stories are, moreover, important precursors to a tradition of homely (heimlich) gothic that has become central to debates over the politics of post-colonial gothic in Canadian literature and culture in recent years. Davies’ ritual invention and recitation of these ghost stories set in Massey College, I argue, constitutes a liminal version of Canadian cultural nationalism that revealingly epitomizes the rhetorical strategies of an uncritical settler post-colonialism that imagines Canada as a nation reassuringly haunted by its ancestral ghosts.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 1012-1028
Launched on MUSE
2009-12-24
Open Access
No
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