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LETTERS IN CANADA: 1944 303 V. REMAINING ,MATERIAL THE EDITOR AND OTHERS This essay completes the survey of Letters in Canada in 1944 by dealing with Miscellaneous English-Canadian Prose. Section I covers _Narrative and Descriptive Writing, including Biography and Autobiography. Sections II and III, 'supplied by Mr. Philip Child, presen t works dealing with the.War (II) a~d with Canada and the Post-War World (III). Section IV is Professor A. Brady's annual review of scholarship in the Social Sciences. Section V contains, besides Mr. Donald Buchanan's account of Criticism of the Arts, brief notices of other Critical Essays and writings in the fields of Religion and Education. I Among the very few volumes in 1944 with any claim whatsoever to distinction as narrative and, descriptive writing, two were by women authors of some repute. , Both were autobiographical in form, and one of them in substance. And each marked a decisive stage in its author'!:> career. The House oj All Sorts" by Miss Emily Carr, seemed to conclude an effort -in lett~rs, unusual in its late and brilliant beginning, while Partner in Three W,or/ds, by Dorothy Duncan (Mrs. Hugh 1V!acLennan), gave a hope for her future performance quite absent from Here's to Canada (1942). The death of Miss Emily Carr at seventy-four, news of which reaches me as I pen these words, is a loss to Canadian literature as well as to Canadian painting..:...-yet not perhaps so much a loss as an occasion for honouring a really notable achievement. For in her painting, to 'which she devoted the best years of her life, she gave us quaqtity and quality, and it is clear that when, at seventy, she turned to "the other harmony of prose,', ' what she had to give us was one 'thing of unique value, the little volume Klee Wyck (1942). In it she was able to exploit in words the sensibility that heretofore had found expression in her pictures. Within -its limits it was a masterpiece , worthy of its place on the still almost empty shelfof Canadian classics, beside' Mr. Grove's Over Prah-t'e Trails and The ,Turn oj the Year. Th~ House oj ./Ill Sorts belongs not with Klee Wyck, but with The Book oj Small (1943), on a lower and, naturally enough, a better filled shelf in our library. In these two later volumes there is the fundamental honesty, simplicity, and directness of Klee Wyck, but not the pec'uliar sensibility with its flashes of insight and its unforgettable etching of scenes. The Book of Small, by virtue of its subject matter, made a twofold claIm on our attention, as a record of the early life of an independent and strong-minded Canadian woman and a great artist) and as a record of how people lived and thought in a remote part of the ,Dominion sixty years ago. TIle House oj All Sorts carries on the story in the days when, convinced of her inability to live by her art, Miss' Carr built, .furnished, and ran a small apartment ho~se in Victoria. The subject is less 'interesting to the, imagination and the historical sense; and, while the writing is not markedly inferior to that of The Book of Small, there is an uneasy impression that the,well of memory, which 304 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY once flowed so freely, is running low. And these facts are sufficient to make the reader for the first time acutely conscious of the absence of reflectionj of mature thought. Miss Carr's equipment, we realize; was wholly that of the artist, not at all that of the thinker. Painting was her true medium, and nature and primitlve life) her proper subject matter. In Klee Wyck she was able to rely on her artist's sensibility and to treat her subject matter as sllcce$sfuIly in words as in colour and line. But the later volumes, and especially TIlt House of All Sorts, reveal to us how limited was her,range. All her scenes are Canadian and from her own experience, and this will appear to some critics to give them a peculiar merit and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 303-328
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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