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HUMANITIES 443 have that father desert him. The pattern reminds us of In Search of Myself where the young Grove and his mother flee from the father. Richard Ihle, forced to grow up without the security of a strong family, seems doomed to repeat the pattern by marrying Bertha, a woman ofweak character who proves incapable of fulfilling the roles of wife and mother. Susie and Lottie, the daughters, grow up in an atmosphere lacking in familial support. Richard, denied sons and faced with three females none of whom he can understand, fails as a father in his turn. At the end of the novel Susie and Lottie choose to marry in order to escape the household, now governed by a stepmother who appears to be as unlikely a mate for Richard as was Bertha. Susie's choice for a husband is a man lacking in fortitude, a man much like her mother in disposition, a man easily manipulated and thus easily controlled. The sins of the grandfather are visited upon the grandchild. Grove investigated the structure of the family in considerable detail in later books. The necessity for the wife and mother to mediate between the father and his children became clear in Two Generations. TheMaster Mason's House, like The Master of the Mill, delineates the tragedy which ensues when such mediation is absent. There are other flashes of later Grove in this early novel. He displays the remarkable eye for precise detail which makes Over Prairie Trails one of his most stylistically impressive books. It is interesting that he abandons the concern for precise social description in the prairie novels, ignoring the daily activities and social conventions of life and striving to find the elemental, tragic dimensions of his characters. The prairies reduced the complexity of life and revealed man caught in conflict with nature and striving to escape materialism in favour of humane family life. The Master Mason's House is unlikely to find a wide readership; however, for the student of Grove it holds fascinating insights into his evolution as a novelist. (S.E. MCMULLIN) Wayne E. Edmoostone. Nathan Coluu: TI1e Making of a Critic Lester & Orpen. x, 286, illus. $12.95 About 60 per cent of Edmonstone's book is in fact written by Nathan Cohen himself, mainly in the form of quoted texts for radio broadcasts and published journalism. In justifying his technique, the author sets himself standards which he does not seem to have upheld in the book as a whole: 'As much as pOSSible, I have let Mr. Cohen do the talking, to make his own case. I hold the view that a writer's ideas dre best served by the clear presentation of what he has written, rather than someone else's interpretation of that writing' (p vii). One is led to question why, if he really believes this, he has not given us a selected anthology of Cohen's criticism, a book which would be of enormous value to those interested in Canada's cultural and theatrical development since the war. Such an 444 LETTERS IN CANADA 1977 anthology would require careful editorial introductions to the material which Edmonstone treats in a more undirected way - the biographical details of Cohen's career as a critic, the historical background of Toronto theatre, the development of the Stratford Festival, and so on - but would allow readers directly to judge the quality of the criticism in action. Cohen's supposed prejudices against the Crest Theatre or Stratford, for example, are to be tested only by reading what he wrote and spoke about them. He was an exception among major theatre critics in not publishing collections of his own reviews, and this gap in the material of our theatrical history should be repaired. Edmonstone's book quotes radio scripts at the expense of newspaper articles, perhaps because he has worked from Cohen's papers in the National Archives, and has felt the need to make public material otherwise unavailable, but the unfortunate effect is that one is frequently aware of overstatement and repetition in Cohen's writing. Probably this is attributable to the requirements of the medium, but one needs to see more of...


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pp. 443-444
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