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278 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 The second challenge is to describe, however briefly, a theory explaining the successful interweaving of aesthetic and social values. How do we assess the artistry of didactic or partisan art? What makes literature progressive? This is not Doyle=s main duty, but it is implicit in his desire to distinguish a radical tradition. In this respect, he is more reserved. He is well informed about the history of communist literary ideology, its mistrust of modernism as practised by brilliant but reactionary writers like Eliot and Pound, and its attempts to articulate a critical aesthetic which could be both brilliant and progressive. These attempts evidently did not translate well to Canada. Here, earlier efforts to combine doggerel and dogma do justice to neither; while more accomplished writers poignantly evoked the agonies of poverty and alienation, yet often retained an individualistic bias that led to escapism, introspection, romantic anti-capitalism, or anarchist individualism, rather than to effective social action. Too often, aesthetics and politics remain at odds. (JON KERTZER) David Damas. Arctic Migrants /Arctic Villagers: The Transformation of Inuit Settlement in the Central Arctic McGill-Queen=s University Press. 278. $75.00 The author has done extensive archival research and provided a book that describes what happened in the central Arctic from the 1940s to the 1970s. The earlier chapters deal with a period of great change in the Arctic, a time of depleting game resources, declining fur prices, and the ravages of virgin soil diseases. They contain some memorable images of small clusters of Ottawa bureaucrats making decisions that greatly affected life in the central Arctic without giving any thought to consulting the Inuit, and often with little substantive knowledge of the conditions the people faced in trying to stay alive. Aided and abetted by the HBC and the RCMP, the bureaucracy, until the 1950s, pursued a policy of keeping the people dispersed and out of the growing number of Arctic settlements until it became obvious that life on the land was no longer sustainable. Practically, the Ottawa bureaucracy had to keep the costs of administering the far North down. The region produced little of value except furs, hardly essential to national well-being. It was remote and out of sight, and until the postwar era, the official preference was that it should remain that way. It was in the HBC=s interests that the people continue to trap white fox instead of hanging around the settlements. Moreover, keeping Inuit on the land was seen as cultural xxxxxx humanities 279 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 preservation and as necessary to maintaining what work ethic they might possess. Mostly unaware of these views and the manipulations that followed from them, the Inuit behaved as impoverished people have always behaved . By harvesting and trapping fox, they tried to keep themselves alive. If land resources proved insufficient where they were, they tried other locations. And if that failed, they would see what was available at the trading post or mission. Yet, while they may have been welcomed by the missionary who needed a flock, the trader and the government did not want them there, and, by one means or another, persuaded them to move back to the land. The Inuit operated out of the mistaken belief that they might find sustenance in the settlements and the bureaucrats out of the equally mistaken belief that the Inuit would find it on the land. What permanently changed this two-way delusional pattern were instances of starvation and their widespread publication. In the mid-1950s, people starved to death. While their numbers were not high, they received national attention when their story, properly embellished, was told by Farley Mowat and the media. At the same time, the national perception of the North was changing. Increasingly, it was seen as having enormous mineral and hydrocarbon potentials. The question of what to do with the Inuit shifted from how to preserve their way of life to how to include them in northern development. A rescue effort, which the author entitles >The Welfare State Policy,= was implemented. Steps...


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