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humanities 267 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 understanding while assuring English Canadians that Quebec would answer the trumpet=s call if Britain faced attack. But there are problems with this monograph. While Lapointe=s tenure as minister of justice is well handled (he declined, for example, to overrule Quebec=s controversial Padlock Law of 1937 while declaring as ultra vires various legislative acts put forward by Alberta=s Social Credit government), Betcherman=s treatment of Lapointe=s foreign policy interests is far less sure. There are numerous errors of fact, such as the misnaming of the CCF B the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, not the Canadian Cooperative Federation B while Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931, not 1932. Indeed, much of the secondary research for this book dates back to the period prior to the 1980s, leading one to suspect that this manuscript may well have been completed a good many years ago, only to be pulled more recently, perhaps half-forgotten, from a desk drawer. Much better use could have been made of MacFarlane=s work, as well as Paul Bychok=s 1995 MA thesis from Queen=s University. There are a handful of references made to these works, but they seem to have been rather clumsily added to a dated work that was already substantially complete. Additionally, the notion of Neville Chamberlain as a naïve appeaser fooled by a more clever Adolf Hitler, a view that Betcherman feels compelled to repeat, in recent years has undergone a dramatic reworking with the revelation that the German dictator regarded the Munich agreement as a German diplomatic defeat that Chamberlain had adroitly foisted upon him. In short, Betcheman=s book, while often a very good read, should be used carefully, and in matters of foreign affairs, should defer to John MacFarlane =s superior study. (GALEN PERRAS) Jean Barman. Constance Lindsay Skinner: Writing on the Frontier University of Toronto Press. viii, 360. $50.00 Barman=s book struggles with a common problem of literary biographies in a post-canonical time: how to justify the writing (and the reading) of the life of a writer who never quite made it, >never experienced any single moment of greatness.= Born in British Columbia=s Cariboo region in 1877, Constance Lindsay Skinner doggedly pursued a professional writing career for over forty years as a poet, a journalist, a dramatist, a novelist, a children=s author, a historian, and pretty much anything else the market would support. She spent almost all of these years in the United States, moving to Los Angeles in 1900, Chicago in 1908, and New York from 1912 to her death B still writing B in 1939. According to Barman, Skinner carried the memory of the western Canada of her childhood with her throughout her life, resulting in a body of work generically disparate but unified by its fascination with frontiers real and imagined and with the Native and >hybrid= peoples that 268 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 occupied those frontiers. Best known in her day for conceiving and editing a series of popular histories of the rivers of North America that continued after her death and reached sixty-five volumes (many still in print), Skinner in her last years edged towards fame in her adopted country and is remembered by a medal in her name issued annually by the Women=s National Book Association and, more recently, by the Library of Congress for being one of the first women to rise to a position of power in the American book publishing industry. In Canada, Skinner was and is mostly unknown, forgotten by even such basic reference works as the Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature until resurrected by Barman. The implicit and by its final sentence explicit claim of Barman=s biography is that Skinner >deserves the recognition of posterity.= If that=s so, it=s not for her literary merits. Barman=s chapter on Skinner=s fiction is repetitive because the stories it discusses are repetitive, the kind of marketdriven writing that prompts phrases like >another of Constance=s stock frontier heroes= and >the requisite happy...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 267-268
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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